Sunday, July 31, 2016
Sometimes in our journey through this life we find ourselves in a place where we feel that God is not listening or at least not answering. We cry out to Him in our distress but do not seem to get a response. Been there? Well, we are in really good company because even King David feared a quiet God. In Psalm 143 David pleads for a response from God. "Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear you in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (143:7-8 ESV) When we find ourselves in that pit, we would do well to remember David's words and take them as our own.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
We are called as Christians to give God thanks for everything. Psalm 118:28-29 reads, "You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever." (ESV) It's easy to be thankful and praise God when things are good: when you get that raise or when you are celebrating an event with your family. It gets a little harder to give thanks to God during more difficult times: when the family car needs new tires and there is no money left or when two kids and the dog all have the stomach bug. And how to we find a grateful spirit when things are just down right bad? A bad heath diagnosis or getting fired from your job can put some of us over the edge. I Thessalonians 5:18 directs us to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." If we look fully into the face of Jesus we can feel the peace and love in all situations and we should be earnestly grateful. Thank you Jesus.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Colossians 4:2 "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." Today was a full day of prayer for me. My mother had some pretty serious surgery today and I have a friend with a really big need right now so most of my day was in conversation with our Lord. Mom came through her ordeal pretty well and is resting comfortably tonight. Thank you God. My friend's situation is slowly improving so I say thank you God again! How incredibly lucky we are to have a God who listens to our prayers and always has an answer for us. There is so much power in prayer and in handing over our concerns to our Father in heaven. Thank you God!
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Psalm 55:1 "Give ear to my prayer O god, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy." Whenever we find ourselves in that place where we so need God's mercy and love, all we have to do is ask for it. Prayer is so powerful. In times of pain, pray to our Lord. In times of burden, pray to our Lord. In times of repentence, pray to the Lord. God will hear our cries!
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
I have spent a huge amount of time this week at the Boone County Fair. I love the fair! I enjoy reconnecting with old friends. I enjoy eating elephant ears and ice cream from the Shake Stand. I enjoy the exhibits in the community building and I really enjoy watching kiddos participate in the livestock shows. Today as I sat in the stands in the show arena and watched my grandson, and several others, show their animals I felt a pang of sadness for the ones that did not get the blue ribbon. All the 4-Hers worked so hard to get to the fair and the day was so hot, I wished I could give them all an award! Sometimes the reality of competition is a hard one. Clearly there can only be one winner. Someone gets the blue and many others get red or green or nothing at all. As I was feeling the pain of those who left the arena with nothing except disappointment, it occured to me that with our Lord we all win! Jesus wants all of us to be the winners! He does not want to leave anyone behind. Our victory comes from Jesus and for that we all should be shouting AMEN! Thank you, Jesus! Jude 24-25 reads, "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time, and now and forever, Amen." Jesus will give each of us a blue ribbon as we stand before God!
Monday, July 25, 2016
I have just been reflecting on our last few days as we have been enjoying the county fair with our daughters and their kiddos. It has been incredibly hot! We have had late nights and early mornings! There has been some stress but very few harsh words or grouchy children. God has just blessed my little heart so fully this weekend! I am so grateful for my family. I am so grateful that we live in this particular community. I am so grateful that our grandkids are involved in good, wholesome activities and have good friends. I am so grateful that I am healthy and able to climb bleachers and tote coolers. God is very good indeed! What are you grateful for? How has God blessed you? Think about big blessings and tiny blessings....they all are from God! Today why don't you begin a blessing journal. Every day find and record one thing that was a blessing for that day and write it in your journal. Then pray to the Lord thanking Him for that blessing. You will be amazed at the end on one week how many wonderful things the Lord has provided for you. Ephesians 5:20 says to "Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ."
Sunday, July 24, 2016
"My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him". (Psalms 62:5) The Lord gave me another scripture about waiting today. I guess maybe this is a lesson that is important and He knows I have not mastered it yet! Isn't it funny how that happens so often? God just knows what I am lacking and He speaks directly to my heart. This verse says to wait only for God and to wait expectantly. I love that! We are told to expect that God will give us direction and lead us down the path. When I move ahead without God I am really only cheating Him. I am saying that I do not think He is big enough or strong enough to take care of my needs. Ouch! I am telling God that I can do things on my own. Oh goodness! When I put it that way it reminds me of our three year old grand daughter who always thinks she can move ahead without a hand from an adult but often that ends in bruises and tears. Just like me when I fail to wait upon the Lord. I am bruised and tearful when I fail to wait. I am bruised and tearful when my expectations are for earthly things rather than God in heaven. Lord, thank you for your Word and your message!
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. (Psalms 27:14) Oh how I hate to wait! Wait at the doctor's office. Wait for the train. Wait for someone to pick up the phone. Wait for the dryer to finish the load. Wait, Wait, Wait! It seems my day is full of wait. But when I read this scripture it indicates that wait might be a good thing. Hmmmm? Wait on the Lord. What does that look like? Wait for Him to lead me? Wait for Him to answer prayer? Wait for Him to speak to me? But look further into the Word and we read that He will reward my wait by strengthening me. Thank you Jesus for showing me that wait can be a good thing and that I need to wait for You. Whilel I am waiting could you throw in a little patience?
Friday, July 22, 2016
Have you done something good for someone in need this summer? Have you supported a charity or worked on a mission project? Have you made a financial contribution to a good cause? I Thessalonians 3:13 reminds us to continue doing charity. "As for you brothers, do not grow weary in doing good." There is so much need in our world today. One does not have to look very far to see folks that are in a bad way. Yes, there is much to do in third world countries, but there is also much to do in our very own communities. If you think there are not homeless and hungry people within ten miles of where you live then you need to take a closer look. The need is great and often we think that our little bit of support will not make any difference in the big picture. You know what, you may be right. But a tiny bit of love shared with one other person will be a big difference in that one person. Friends, let's don't ever get tired of doing good!
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Have you ever been the subject of someone's gossip? Maybe it was not even a really big deal. Maybe it was half true. Maybe not! Maybe it was not even a teeny bit true and caused you a great deal of hurt. Maybe it was totally true but not something that you wanted everyone to know. No matter what - gossip is hurtful. Let's think about this in a different way. Have you ever shared something about someone that you did not know was absolutely true? Have you ever blabbed a tidbit that you were told in confidence? Have you ever started a conversation with "I should not be telling you this but..."? Friends, gossip is hurtful! God instructs us to stay away from people who are gossips, and I think that also means that we should not be that gossip. Proverbs 20:19 reads "A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much." (NIV)
John 12:42-43 "Nethertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God." (ESV) When I first read this scripture I felt so bad for the folks that did not acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. Initially I thought that these folks should be pitied because they clearly did not get it! What good is beleiving in our Savior if we only hide it in our hearts? Then suddenly I had a completely different thought cross my mind. I was blindsided with the realization that I am not so much unlike these people in my own personal walk with Jesus. Yes, of course I believe in Jesus! But then, I hang my head as I think about so many times that I was in a situation where it was not "politically correct" to confess that Jesus saved me from certain death so I did not! Sweet Jesus help me to thirst for the glory that comes from You!
Monday, July 18, 2016
Luke 10:23-24 "Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you saw but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." Jesus was a bit perturbed with his disciples because even though they walked and lived with him and witnessed many life changing events at his hand, they did not really get it. What a huge priviledge they had to rub elbows with our Lord, Jesus. But still they seemed to misunderstand. As Christians, we too are priviledged by knowing our Lord. We have God's Word to lead us and encourage us, but sometimes, like the disciples, we also fall short. Being a Christian brings great benefits but also great responsibilities. We need to be certain that we do get it! We need to be certain that we also live it so that we can share it. We have to live like we know and love Jesus so that we are not like the prophets and kings. Help me Jesus to draw closer to you!
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Have you ever wondered about the scripture in Luke where Jesus asks Peter "who the crowds say He is"? I find it to be very interesting that Jesus waits for an answer and then questions Peter further about who Peter thinks He is. The scripture reads,"Once when Jesus was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, he asked them, "who do the crowds say I am?" Luke 9:18. This is important to understand because wherever the crowds that surround you go, there is always a temptation to follow. The popular version of who God is may reflect an illustration of God that is faulty. Jesus wants us to know and claim who he is for ourselves. Jesus wants us to be certain that He is our personal Lord and Savior. Luke 9:20 finishes with Jesus saying "But what about you, he asked. Who do you say I am? Peter answered, The Christ of God." Amen!
Saturday, July 16, 2016
I so enjoy summer for so many different reasons. But one of my favorite things about July is the abundant goodies that come from everyone's gardens and orchards. I love a warm ripe tomato right out of the garden. And hot, buttery, corn on the cob. And fresh green beans with onion and ham. Yummy! And peaches! Oh how I enjoy a drippy, sweet, fresh peach. God has blessed us with so many delicious garden treats! God has filled us up with fruits of the spirit as well. You know the scripture: Galations 5:22-23 (ESV) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law." That sweet peach is dull and bitter next to these fruits. Why, then, do we not crave them in the same way? Friends, let's find that Holy Spirit in our souls and allow Him to bring out the fruits of the Spirit in each of us so that others will see God shining through our lives and want what we have! The master Gardener has filled us with the best produce of all. Let's fill our baskets and then start sharing!
Friday, July 15, 2016
I have been on a dead run this week. I have had lots of obligations and little time for myself or my God. I have gotten up early and gone to bed late to try to get everything accomplished and still I find that I do not have everything marked off my list. Have you ever been there? This evening, I was reminded that God wants me to lean on Him so that He can provide rest to me, and to you too! It was beginning to get dark when I finally settled down and opened my Bible. It fell open to Matthew 11:18-30. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Almost immediately I felt myself relax and felt the peace of Jesus take away all my anxiety and rush. No, my list is still not all completed. Yes, I still have people counting on me to do things tomorrow. But, through scritpture and the mighty message of God, I have come to realize that I need to give my burden to God to help me work through. Thank you Father for showing me a better way to get through my day!
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Lord I just want to take a minute and thank you for coming up with the idea for your children to have fellowship with one another. What a fabulous idea! Yesterday evening our small group met in the home of one couple in our group and we had a blast! We meet weekly to study God's Word but this week was just to do life together and we did it well! I am so blessed to have wonderful Christian friends who I can laugh with and cry with and count on to always have my back. I thank you Lord for each one in the group and for the unique gifts each of us bring to our fellowship. Thank you for coming along as well! Even on the "social" nights, everything is all about you and I am grateful that you honor our time together. Thank you Father! Zechariah 3:10 reads "In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and his fig tree." I can not wait for that eternal fellowship! As much fun as we are having here on this earth, I can hardly imagine what the fellowship spoken about in this scripture will be like. Now that is something to whoop up about!
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
"Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!" Psalm 31:24 (ESV) I love the Psalms. They are so full of rich, everyday, wisdom. I love that the Psalms praise and glorify God and I love that the Psalms speak so strongly to my emotions. This one, 31:24, speaks to me so clearly on this day. I am struggling with an aging parent and all the ramifications of that. I am struggling with the desire to be a good and compassionate daughter but still be the wife and mom that I need to be. Whew! It is a difficult position to be in and some of you may recognize yourself in my life. I was feeling a bit beat up until God gave me this scripture today. Thank you Lord for ministering to me! These brief words reminded me that all is in God's time and I can be strong because my Lord loves me and will handle all this stuff for me. My heart is full because God has filled it up with His strength. Amen!
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
I just sat down at my desk to post and as I was looking over the stacks of books and binders I have near my work space it suddenly ocurred to me that everything points to the same direction. You see, I currently am teaching a Sunday school class about listening to God. I also have been preparing to facilitate book club at church for July regarding a book about praying and have been doing a personal Bible study moving me to not just listen but to act as well. Hmm. Interesting how all three different disciplines are so closely linked. I am pretty sure I will not hear God if I am not in a prayerful relationship with Him and I certainly won't know that proper way to move forward in a manner that is pleasing to Him if I am not listening! Right now I bet that God is just chuckling at me! He's probably thinking, "oh sweetness you are so slow in coming to realization! I love you and I want all of you!" Remember what Paul wrote to the followers at Philippi? Philippians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything in prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Pray and listen and act. Pretty simple!
Monday, July 11, 2016
I have been running in fast mode for the last several weeks. Many things have been taking up much of my time and attention recently. Because I am a teacher I am not working full time outside of the home right now but my days seem to be fuller than when I am working during the school year. Maybe some of you can recognize yourself in my busyness. It seems that I am trying to fill up every moment with something, but I am not sure that I am doing much of it very well. And at what price is my full calendar costing me? Not long ago I discussed that if something is important to us we will schedule time for it. I believe I was referring to prayer at the time. Well, guess what. One of the things that suffers when I am so crazy busy is my prayer time with my Lord. Another thing I must admit is that I am behind on my daily Bible study. Urgh! The one thing that should be my uppermost priority in my day is my relationship with my Father. Why is it that this is what most often suffers when I get a full calendar? Sometimes I think it is because God patiently waits for me to come to Him. Others in my life demand my time or my attention and you know what they say, "the squeeky wheel gets the grease." Friend, God wants our attention all the time, and I have found that when things are busy, that is one time that I need Him most. Busyness takes my focus away from God and points only to me and what I need. That is very much a condition of vanity when my agenda is more important than God's. So much so that He does not get any of my time and attention. Ecclesiates 2:22-23 admonishes us in our neglect of God because of busyness. "What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow and his work is a vexation. Even in the heart his mind does not rest. This also is a vanity." Keeping in mind that God calls us to find rest in Him, lets try to eliminate some busyness from our days so we can replace that with God. Thank you God for the reminder!
Sunday, July 10, 2016
I have been doing a lot of study and personal reflection regarding prayer and hearing God's voice for several weeks now. I wish I could say that I have gotten better at my prayer life and personal time with God. The truth is that I am still not nearly where I should be in this area, but I do believe that God is encouraging me to move toward Him. And, friends, when God encourages us to do something I have found that we better listen! One thing that struck me just today was that God expects that we will pray. Hmmm. He does not ask us to or strongly suggest that we pray. God EXPECTS us to pray! Wow! Sister, we better get on our knees! Matthew 6:5 starts out "and when you pray". Sounds like expectation to me and I think we better get serious about doing prayer!
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Do you know anyone who seems to have all the bad luck? The one who gets all the bad breaks? The one who it seems always has a problem to deal with? Maybe you are that person. Maybe everything you touch falls to pieces. Friend, give it all to God. Psalm 34:6-7 reminds us that God will hear our cries and He will act! "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." (ESV) Don't you just love that! God is waiting for us to cry out to Him and He will hear those cries. But even better, God will deliver us from the despair. Praise God right now for His unending compassion for us!
Friday, July 8, 2016
Romans 2:1 "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." (ESV) Paul wrote this letter primarily to point out the sins of the people at that time. I find, however, that those of us who call ourselves Christians today fall into many of the same sinful patterns. This particular passage from Romans hits us with a double whammy because Paul tells us that we should not play judge but especially we should not pass judgement on others when we do the very same sin. Does this sound familiar? As I was reading this passage today I was totally convicted as I tend to be very hard on others but sometimes miss recognizing that same sin in my own actions. I have been praying daily that God will soften my heart toward others but also open my eyes to my own shortcomings. Guess what? Today He gave me this scripture to claim as my own. God is so good!
Thursday, July 7, 2016
This morning I was reminded of a passage of scripture in Psalm 27:14. Do you know it? "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the lord!" This short little verse tells us so much about the characteristic of the Lord and about what our relationship with Him should be. Wait for the Lord indicates that we trust that He will move in our lives. Wait for the Lord indicates that we believe that His time is the right time. Wait for the Lord indicates that we know the Lord! When we wait for the Lord we will always be on the correct time table and will have the power, through our Lord, to move forward standing tall. Thank you Jesus! This scripture also tells us that ourt Lord is strong enough to conquer all! It indicates that the Lord knows us and will move on our behalf at just the right time. Thank you Jesus! With our Lord on our side, what do we have to worry about? Calm down and wait!
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
I have been reading a book about praying in preparation for a book club discussion next week at our church. I have had some real "ouchy" moments during my quiet time with this particular text. One of the more difficult lessons I have learned about prayer is that I do not take prayer seriously enough, 100% of the time. Yes, I pray. Yes, I pray everyday. The problem is that some days my prayers are "worked in" while I am driving to work or folding laundry. That points to the idea that I do make prayer a priority in my day. When I look at my calendar I have scheduled in medical appointments and hair appointments. I have lunch dates penciled in and book club and Bible study. Special play days and overnights with grandbabies are written in my calendar in bold letters. But where is prayer? Admittedly, prayer is something that I make happen at meal time and bedtime on a regular basis. Those what I call "snatch prayers" are said through out the day on an "as needed" basis, but setting aside intentional, unterrupted time to chat with God does not happen very often in my weekly calendar. How about your schedule? Do you carve out time to pray to God? Matthew 6:6 "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And you Father who sees in secret will reward you." Friends, we need to schedule prayer into our everyday lives in order to make sure we make time to go to our room and shut the door and be with our Father. Let's try it for one week and see what kind of amazing things God will do with us as we reach out to Him.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
What a fabulous life we live in. I live in a great community with wonderful neighbors. I have the best kids and grandkids that anyone could ask for, and a nearly perfect husband. I am a part of an effective and growing church family. I have wonderful sisters and extended family. God has blessed me abundantly! That is not to say that we do not have any hardships or grumblings. In fact, by some standards, we might even be considered a bit dysfunctional. We fuss with each other from time to time. We have had health issues and financial issues. We have had death and dispair. But through it all, by the grace of God, we just keep moving on. How? Well, frankly, some days we do much better than others, but in the end, we have only God to thank for where we are and who we are. God has opened a door for all of us to communicate and have relationship with them. He created this really neat thing called PRAYER. Prayer is the way that God wants us to reach out to Him. He wants us to give Him our troubles and our pain and trust that He can and will carry us through the turmoil. Prayer is the way that we can show God our praise and thanksgiving. Prayer is the single thread that holds me all together and helps me maintain order in my life. Yep, I live in a pretty fabulous life but it is all because of Jesus! Philippians 4:6 reads, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" Today is a perfect day to start a new prayer life and give it all to God. Try it and see what happens! .
Monday, July 4, 2016
In Sunday school we have recently been discussing how we hear the voice of God today. One way that God speaks to contemporary Christians is through the Holy Spirit. You know the Holy Spirit; that still, small voice inside each of us, that continually directs us in how to walk in the Lord. We should be asking of the Holy Spirit, should I do this? Should I do that? But then we must stop to listen to the answers. The Holy Spirit will remind us that we are children of God and He will show us the path that we should take. The Holy Spirit will give us appropriate words to speak and directions to follow. We only have to ask and then listen for the godly response. Thank you God for giving us the Holy Spirit so that we might learn to focus on you. John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring remembrance all that I have said to you."
Sunday, July 3, 2016
Luke 6:46 reads, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?" Ouch! This is a very short scripture with a very big punch! Have you ever just left a great Bible study or a particulary good Sunday sermon, feeling really good about the lesson, only to quickly drop back into the wordly ways in the blink of an eye? Sometimes before we have gone a mile from the church, someone causes us to react with road rage or the waitress at lunch makes a mistake and we become angry and don't act very nice. Hmm. I think that makes Jesus very sad. We clearly love Him and call Him Lord, but it seems that some of us do not make that part of our everyday lifestyle. See where the ouch comes in? Jesus gave us the ultimate role model and He gives us His Word so that we might have a solution to every human situation. Let's get familiar with that book and let's ask the Lord to change us one day at a time so that we can call Him Lord, Lord, and do what He tells us as well!
Saturday, July 2, 2016
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me. You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim. I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live. Psalm 23 (AEV). Sometimes as you can do is recite the twenty third Psalm!
Friday, July 1, 2016
We have had Vacation Bible School at our church this week and the final program was last night. The children all invited their families to come to see what we have learned this week. The kiddos sang Bible school songs and proudly shared their collections for the mission and what they have talked about in lessons this week. It was a great evening but I was mostly struck by the way the children shared their faith with all of us in the audience. The kiddos were excited and happy and had so much fun talking about Jesus. Their enthusiasm was contagious and everyone seemed to enjoy the event. I so wish that adults could approach every "Jesus" event in such an uninhibited way. I see why Jesus tellls us to have a child like faith. These kids really know how to praise God! Mark 10:13 - 16 reads, "Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, "Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the kindgom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you that whoever does not receive the kidgom of God like a child will never enter it." Then he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on each of them, and blessed them." (TEV) Oh Father, let us all come to you like a child!