Could Someone Please Turn up the Lights?

The America in which I grew up is M.I.A.! Yep, Missing In Action. This country is unrecognizable on so many fronts. By all reports, it seems divided right down the middle. The truth is it is not. Many of us were not happy with either of the final choices that we had to pick from for president. However, we now have a new President! Believers, it is our job to pray for those in authority according to scripture! It is not our job to judge, complain or fear. It is our responsibility to pray for him and our country without regard for our feelings!

To the Women marching on Washington: You claim to speak for women everywhere. I hate to bear you this news, but much that was said represents only a portion of women in this country. Scare tactics, vulgarity, threats and parading your female parts on your heads with your face peeking out doesn’t speak for me; nor many other ladies I know. How appropriate I must say were the cat hats because that is just what some of your representative’s behavior was; “catty.” Oh, how different was the March for life just one week later! Your threats indicate you are bullies disregarding the opinions of women who disagree with your ideology. You do not represent me, and just because I don’t agree with many of your talking points does not make me any less of a woman or any less an advocate for females. I was brought up with manners, modesty and to act like a lady, as were many women all across this country. You, I repeat, do not speak for all women!

To those attacking the New President’s son: I DO NOT care who you do or do not like or support politically. Nor do I care how scared or threatened you feel about the incoming President! Making vicious attacks, accusations or judgments about a ten-year-old young man is absolutely NEVER ok!! It is especially heinous when coming from a supposed adult!! That is the epitome of a bully, and IT IS EVIL!

Without support, this kind of rhetoric could easily do much damage to a ten-year-old, and you are responsible whether your acknowledge it or not for the damage that ensues. Imagine if this young man or anyone you treated so poorly were to act in desperation because of your actions!!

To American Voters everywhere: Have you ever wondered why there has never been such unrest and violent rioting as we have seen since this election? Did you see Republicans act like this after President Obama entered office? President Bush? How about after President Clinton entered office? This process happens every four years and when have your ever seen this kind of out of control behavior in the civilized world? Violent riots are increasing! Everyone is looking out only for their causes without regard to the rights of the other side, and in the process innocent people and businesses get caught in the cross-fire, suffering loss! It is wrong and senseless!! People are stepping on others rights to assert their own. That, my friends, is called oppression- forcing your thought and ideas on others. America is referred to as the land of the free for a reason. All people are entitled to be free unless they break the law. People’s belief is not legislated, at least not yet in this country; though many are pushing us that direction by the thought police. What possesses people to act out in such destructive, violent ways? Why is it acceptable for them to revert to barbaric behavior? Why do others choose more productive ways to deal with loss, disappointment, and fear?

I have news for you; the world is watching. The nation once admired for being a kind; generous, Christian nation is now on display around the world. Where the world is concerned, the media stories are America. No wonder they see Americans as selfish, self-promoting, spoiled, childish, and entitled people. The nation once admired for being a kind; generous, freedom-loving country is now on display around the world, and the picture is ugly and dark. A moderately small number of loud voices are speaking out and claiming to speak for us all. Maybe I am deceived, but I believe that there are many others of you out there that are just as horrified as I am with what they are seeing. We are at a crossroads, and if we continue traveling in this direction, we just may not be happy with the outcome. The question is, “What can or will we do about it?” How long will we sit by and keep quiet allowing those who think differently be the only ones heard? What can you and I do? Can someone please just turn up the lights?? Can we roll this darkness back or call on Someone who can?

President Trump has said that under his leadership, America will become great again. Even with the best of intentions, one person cannot achieve this. Even with the cooperation of every staff member, Congressman, Senator, and Judge, it would be difficult at best. The answer is we the people. Let’s face it, darkness and division are plaguing our people. We spend more time on the few things that divide us than those that unite us. Instead of finding common ground, people insist on their own selfish ways. Each man does what is ‘right’ in his/her own heart. Moral absolutes have often been cast aside and caution in many cases thrown to the wind.

America’s greatness has come from being united. Separate states governing themselves united in one country, under one flag. America’s greatness came from freedom. Freedom of religion, protecting us from a forced national religion. In other words, we can practice whatever religion we choose or none at all; we are free. Freedom of protection which includes our speech, the right to defend ourselves and bear arms. Let’s face it; it also includes freedom of journalism which is a very HOT topic these days! That includes their right to report the story first despite having accurate and truthful facts. They are free to do this, though it isn’t a very smart choice of behavior. I like most others would much prefer an accurate and unbiased report over lots of speculation that later has to be repaired, retracted or corrected. Frankly, it causes chaos and fear that is very unnecessary. Can WE PLEASE just turn up the lights?

Father God, Please forgive us for letting our voices grow softer. Please forgive us for becoming more and more silent; letting our lights dim. Change and revival begin in Your House, oh Lord; with the individuals who love You seeking to be their best self by seeking You, following Your statutes. Help us to be the people You created us to be. To be bold and unashamed of our inheritance or our destiny! Teach us to be brave, bold and stand firm for the things that are deep in our heart; fearing not to be different and stand up for what is good and what is true!

Your Word says:                                                                                                                                       “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a temple of sacrifice. 13 If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on My people, 14 and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 15 My eyes will now be open and My ears attentive to prayer from this place. 16 And I have now chosen and consecrated this temple so that My name may be there forever; My eyes and My heart will be there at all times. 17 As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, doing everything I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and ordinances, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I promised your father David: You will never fail to have a man ruling in Israel.19 However, if you turn away and abandon My statutes and My commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them, and this temple that I have sanctified for My name I will banish from My presence; I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples. 21 As for this temple, which was exalted, everyone who passes by will be appalled and will say: Why did the Lord do this to this land and this temple? 22 Then they will say: Because they abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They clung to other gods and worshiped and served them. Because of this, He brought all this ruin on them.” 2 Chronicles 7

Please Lord, help us to realize there is much more here than just a prayer for forgiveness and healing in our land. There is a warning to keep false gods out of our lives, including the god of selfishness. So what are the false gods that plague us today? Please give us eyes to see what they are. Perhaps political correctness is one, or materialism, obsession with technology, televisions, hobbies, sports, fear. Is it possible self can become a major god in our life? How about education? Have we become so smart that true wisdom is lacking? Please give us the wisdom to humble ourselves, repent and seek Your face, learn and grow and allow our lights to shine brightly. Please help us to find True North and get back on the right road and may Your children turn up their lights all around this land and live peacefully! In Jesus Mighty Name, Amen.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,                                                                         and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”                                                                          2 Corinthians 13:14

The Power of Praying God’s Word

“For the Word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 Amplified Bible

Prayer is a powerful tool in the arsenal of a believer but sometimes we forget just how mighty it can be. In fact, at times when life is going along just fine we can neglect our prayer life, and when the heat turns up then, we are quick to realize that we have a source to Whom we can turn. Hopefully, that’s not true in our case, but it sometimes happens when our life is rocking along pretty well.

God’s Word is chocked full of sound advice, effective principals for life, and great promises. We just have to be open to searching them out. You just might be surprised at how relevant it can be to life even in the 21st century. Now I have prayed the Word for some years, but recently I am realizing that even so, I am underutilizing it in my prayer life. For example, I was praying for a friend this morning who is seeking the Lord about some decisions. I ran across a scripture that I found to be very helpful. I know when I am asking the Lord for something; sometimes I find it hard to know the difference between Him answering, my thoughts and other thoughts and ideas that ‘pop’ into my head. I ran across this scripture this morning and felt prompted to pray it over my friend.

““I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up from some other place [on the stone wall], that one is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [the protector and provider]. The doorkeeper opens [the gate] for this man, and the sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And [knowing that they listen] he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture]. When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”” ‭JOHN‬ ‭10:1-5‬ ‭AMP‬‬

““The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they will never, ever [by any means] perish; and no one will ever snatch them out of My hand.” ‭JOHN‬ ‭10:27-28‬ ‭AMP‬‬

The focus scripture was My sheep, (my followers) hear My voice and they follow me. The voice of a stranger, they will not follow. Based on these words, I felt compelled to petition the Father that this is His child I am praying for and that they are diligently seeking His wisdom. So my prayer went something like this: Lord, I pray (their name) will clearly hear Your answers for he/she is Your child and Your children (sheep) hear your voice and Your Word says that the voice of a stranger they will not follow. I pray that Your voice will be clear to (name) and that all others will be silenced so that he/she clearly hears what You alone have to say to them. From there, I went on to look up appropriate scriptures to pray over my friend’s current needs. What is an excellent way to pray for others or yourself!

You might ask why? Why is praying the Word of God relevant? Isaiah 55 tells us in verse 11, “My word, which comes from my mouth, is like the rain and snow. It will not return to me without results. It will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do.” Now that sounds like another promise we can count on; we just have to remember it says that it accomplishes what He wants and achieves what He sends it to do. That means we must pray the promise within the context it is written and with the right motives.

“What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. 

                                                  You do not have because you do not ask.

     You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.” James 4:1-3

As you can see, as we seek to pray our motives are important. Proverbs 21:2 tells us that “Every way of a man is right in is own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (English Standard Version) Because of this, we need to search our own heart as we make request and petition for ourselves or others. Another good example is Galatians 1:10 Paul asks: “for am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? OR AM I TRYING TO PLEASE MAN? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ?” 1 Thessalonians 2:4, “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” ESV And lastly, 1 Timothy 1:5: ‘The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” ESV. So let’s make sure to examine our hearts and motives and “Let us, therefore, come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need”! Hebrews 4:16 NKJV

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ grant you grace and peace!

Life Perspectives

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A display of His Splendor!

Sometimes every single sign points to one particular scenario and then we wake up to find everything’s changed!! Nothing is as was expected. Sometimes the changed expected outcome is a good thing; other times not so much. Many situations may bring mixed reactions depending on each individuals perspective! In the meantime we have a decision to make.  How will we react or respond?

By noon yesterday, most of metro Atlanta began to shut down. Schools let out early or closed; o and staff left at noon and some businesses as well. We were in for mixed rain turning to sleet and later to snow with expected accumulations ranging from .25 ” of ice up to 4″ of snow. Temperatures hovered just above freezing. At 1:30 I found myself driving home in very hard rain and as I got closer with my weekly grocery purchase; it tapered down to a mild drizzle. (That was favor) Nothing much more until after dark, more rain; then turning to sleet or frozen rain after 8:00. Enjoying the evening with some friends, we lost track of time.  Finally, a bit after 10 we wandered out to a .25″ carpet of slushy ice covering all surfaces from power lines to the ground. The 11 o’clock news was certain as the rain tapered, snow would come through between 4 and 8 a.m. leaving a nice blanket, again about 2-3 inches.

Morning  came. Much to the surprise of many, it looked almost exactly as it had at 10 p.m. The only real difference was the slush was frozen harder and a scant unmeasurable dusting of snow that you actually had to hunt to see. Children and snow lovers everywhere were disappointed; though many others were rejoicing. (Again, it’s all about perspective.) As I sit looking out back through my picture window, I can’t help but look up at that beautiful blue sky with trees glistening,  their bare branches covered with sparkling ice; a display of our Creators splendor! The picture just doesn’t do justice to the beauty.

I can’t help but stare mesmerized wondering at how like life this whole situation is. Everyone going along with their everyday life, doing whatever it is that is required. Suddenly something changes, in this particular case an announcement of winter weather with unseasonably cold temperatures, ice, snow, increasingly colder temperatures followed by ice-covered trees and very high winds. It is a sure mixture for broken limbs and falling trees, especially after a late summer drought. No wonder many were more concerned than excited about snow. For some the lack of snow was very disappointing. Many others are just plain grateful for areas where the snow, ice, and winds were much lighter than expected, as were the damages.

Life happens this way all the time. It throws a ‘suddenly’ our direction; some good, others not so good.  Like our weekend weather, it may or may not follow the predictable paths. It may surprise us pleasantly; shock us beyond belief; knock our socks off; or completely devastate us. The possibilities are endless and we have a choice when it does. With what perspective will we choose to look at the circumstance? Will it be a positive perspective? Or negative? Will we seek to look at the big picture weighing one against the other to find a balanced perspective? Will we panic or will we keep a cool and distant position to observe? Honestly, it’s not easy to say how we will react when so many variables are around us all the time. One thing is sure, at least in my mind. We are always better off seeking balance in our perspective when something happens suddenly or unexpectedly. You may not agree, but personally I believe the key to riding out the ‘suddenlies’ in life may just be found in carefully weighing our circumstances and finding a balanced perspective which in my mind leads to a more peaceful place where our mind can find rest.

Whose Kingdom Are You Building?

““The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

“Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.”Matthew 6:7-13 MSG

I have to admit; this translation is very different sounding than the one I memorized as an elementary school child! On the other hand, it states its intent very succinctly and clear. We who have chosen a life in Christ are sons and daughters of the Most High God. To function as He created us to function, we need the revelation of Who He is, His true character and who He says we are. We need to understand His power and vast ability; His just nature; His restraint; His mercy on us-His grace. His Kingdom is perfect – no pain; no suffering; order-no chaos; no death. We are instructed to pray for His Kingdom to come to earth as it is above which brings me to today’s blog title: “Whose Kingdom Are You Building?”

These words came to me this morning while listening to the last session of the 2017 Passion Conference. You see I’d been struggling with some questions both personal and some that were not about me at all. Yesterday, I had listed them during my quiet time asking God for answers, and during the last speaker’s message today, I began to realize a few things.

  • I have peace in the midst of the questions with which I am wrestling.
  • Do those struggles mean I’m out of sync with God? Not necessarily!
  • I realized I couldn’t experience that peace if I were out-of-order or not at peace with God.
  • Struggles are part of life, but not necessarily an indication your outside God’s will. Maybe He’s revealing something new or fresh; no it doesn’t necessarily have to pertain directly to you. But you may find it helpful in dealing with your struggles

This lead up to the poignant question: “whose Kingdom are you building?” We all have hopes, dreams, goals. That is a great thing! God also has goals and plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11, plans for a hope and a good future.) But whose Kingdom are we building? Please hear my heart, this isn’t a judgment for I am asking myself these questions as much as anyone. If we are indeed sons and daughters of God, how much time do we actually spend praying this sincere and powerful prayer or thinking about the fact there is a higher existence; a greater kingdom? I realized that a lot of my thought life lately had been focused on the questions I was struggling with when I should have prayed more and reasoned less. The reasoning doesn’t accomplish much! Prayer is powerful, and it moves the heart of God! All the logic in the world cannot achieve change or a difference BUT the moment I laid my questions out before God asking for His help; His perspective and positioned myself to hear; He sent an answer to an even greater question through a simple yet powerful question, also bringing several scriptures to my mind. One was the Lord’s Prayer. Another was Seek first His Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) Also, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) ““This is GOD ’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as GOD: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’” Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG

These are but a few of the promises we can rely on when we have times of struggles, questions or problems! They all came about because of a simple prayer, crying out for wisdom and understanding, and patiently waiting for His answer in His timing when it would have the most profound effect in my current walk with Him. It was the result of seeking His Kingdom first rather than reacting on impulse or assumption in a situation. You see, I didn’t understand why a situation was happening over and over. The answer was all about whose kingdom was being built.

Tags: Questions, Struggles, Answers, Promises, Kingdom Building

Categories: Prayer, promises, Perspective

Resolution or Revolution

Whether you have experienced the best Christmas and New Years ever or struggled through every single moment since Thanksgiving; I want to bring you some encouragement! New Years brings a lot of pressure to many of us. We are challenged to make life changing resolutions. Buck up, loose that weight, eat healthier and get those lab numbers down; give your work everything you’ve got…you know that promotion is coming available; fix that broken relationship, or maybe even work on having the mind and character of Christ.

We see the beginning of a year as a chance for a new beginning; a time when we have a fresh start. Then the pressures begin. Sometimes from others, but most often we exert the most pressure! Have you ever noticed that many times we can be our worst enemies? Have you ever suffered from unrealistic expectations that you have placed on yourself? Boy have I!

The problem with resolutions is life often gets in the way, and we often give up quickly because it seems almost impossible. The truth of the matter is what we are facing is called predictable resistance. If you are addicted to soda, whether regular or diet; have you ever tried to give it up? The predictable opposition is that if you’re like most, you will almost immediately begin to have cravings for what is missing. Same goes for sugar or other addictive or habitual activities. These are the things that are the enemies of our success. Maybe you are trying to find resolution in a relationship, but the other person isn’t ready to cooperate. No matter the situation, predictable resistance is always willing to meet you as you battle to accomplish your objectives.

I hear you, so how is that encouragement? That’s pretty discouraging. The first step in overcoming and being successful is knowing where the battle is and how to fight it. Now if you’re new to the blog, let me begin by explaining that I am a believer in God, Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. You may or may not agree, and that’s just fine. However, I would just like to encourage you that there is power to reach your goals, be successful in your resolutions, and for me, I am seeking a revolution in my thinking in 2017.

Too many times I have let the enemy and others steal my resolve. The truth of the thing is, we don’t battle people-it is a deception of the enemy of our souls that people are our problem.

Ephesians 6:12-13 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to
stand firm.”

     We have an arsenal of weapons and depending on who you ask; anywhere between 3000 and 8000 promises available to stand on in the Word of God! That’s pretty powerful! The thing is, are we aware they exist? Are we motivated to see if any pertain to our situation? Do we have the faith to believe they are available even to us? These are all questions I wrestled over in the past and let’s face it sometimes I still do! We all have times of weakness when we feel beaten down and just want it to be easy. We also have an enemy who does not want us to realize who we are in Christ. He doesn’t want us to understand God’s love for us or how much is available to us if only we believe!

So here is the thing: the enemy has tried to stall my writing, my study time and placed objects in the way of my thinking. Is it his fault? Not really, he can’t accomplish it without my cooperation! It is time this stops. If satan wants a revolution, it is time that I picked up that arsenal again and defended these things I know the Lord desires to see in my life knowing that God will be right there giving wisdom, inspiration, and hope along the way! Hopefully, I will be able to share with you the steps He shows me along the path and share some of the wonderful promises available to those who believe!

For those currently struggling, I would like to leave you with these thoughts from King David:

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
2 When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
3 Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.
4 I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.
5 For He will conceal me in His shelter
in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
6 Then my head will be high
above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
8 My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
9 Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.
11 Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
12 Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing violence.
13 I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.
HCSB

Releasing the Old; Embracing the New

It’s now December 31st, and for the most part, the hustle and bustle of the Christmas celebration are winding down. Our Savior’s birth celebrated, presents given, presents received and opened, the glitz and wrappings of another year have found their way to their respective places whether that is in a drawer, a closet, returned, or in storage for next year, the recycle bin or for curbside pick up. For many it has been a time of sadness, remembering those no longer with us or losses that we have struggled with this year. Others felt alone and far from their loved ones whether because of their career; or serving their country across the world; or because they did not have resources to travel to their family or loved ones. Some have had the best year ever. Others celebrate a new birth or new life in their homes. Many experienced the angst of wanting to bless their loved ones with just the right gift, and some the pressure of not having the means to do it or do it in the manner they would like.

It is my hope and prayer that even amongst the myriad of feelings we often find ourselves experiencing; the pressures that we experience during this time of year that you have been able to find glimpses of joy. My wish is that glimmers of unconditional love have shown themselves; moments of grace have peeked out around the corner and taken your breath away! Christmas and life, in general, is much more than quick photo ops and sound bites! We often miss out when we get caught up in the rush and the pressures.

Except for leftover expenses, bills, and a few leftovers, the rich and tasty treats that we only allow ourselves this time of year, have been consumed. Now we move onto thinking about a brand new year with all the potential it may hold. Lord God help us to frame 2017 just that way! Give us the courage to look realistically at 2016; the good and the bad; the victories and the regrets. Help us to have the proper perspective about how our year as gone. Show us how to have the grace to celebrate every victory; gracefully repair what needs fixing and let go of what we can not change. May we have the boldness to look back realistically at the year, see it as it was, evaluate the changes we need to make and with great courage step into the adventure the New Year will bring. Help us have the wisdom to take time, to slow down and enjoy some simple small pleasures; such as a walk in nature, watching children play; making that phone call we have talked about but neglected; praying a moment for that person that just keep popping into our mind; maybe even sending a note to them. Teach us to simplify our life so we can enjoy it more; enjoy others more. Perhaps it just really boils down to perspective. Help us to develop proper perspective in our lives. Help us to see the things that are the most important; the things that at the end of the day or the end of our days will matter the most. Our relationship to You; our loved ones and those we come in contact with. May love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness be gifts that we often give, for they are far more valuable that anything we can purchase and the truth is that withholding them tends to hurt us far more than anyone else.

Father God, is it possible that there is a focus You have for this new season? Perhaps a word or a scripture verse that we need to ponder or focus on for the upcoming year? Suppose You are saying to us as in Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of (perceive) it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert…”. May we be wise and alert enough to sense what You want to do in and through our lives in these days to come. Whether it is focusing on You at a new and deeper level, establishing deeper relationships, reaching out to those who are hurting, changing career or ministry paths… whatever You have for us, may we be willing to embrace it with open and willing hearts in the upcoming year! May we seek wisdom and understanding in all we do and allow You to establish our footsteps as we enter boldly into everything You have for us in 2017.

Election Angst?

     Seven days have passed since the historic election of 2016. One would think that by now things would be beginning to settle, yet emotions for many are still running high. From fear to elation, the sentiments range the gamut! Tears, riots, all the way to shouts of joy have been present. Never have I witnessed a political season like the one we have seen this time! For the most part, it is my personality, to keep quiet about such things; research the candidates, their records, and their character and quietly make my decision. I seldom if ever weigh in over social media but today I feel compelled to comment hoping to bring some peace and reassurance to those who are uncomfortable, fearful, worried or downright angry.

     This may not mean anything to you if your aren’t a person who believes in the God of creation and the Lord Jesus Christ, but Scripture tells us in Daniel:

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Based on this scripture alone, God is NOT surprised by the outcome of this election! He is not wringing His hands with concern about what the future holds. God already knows, and there is a purpose and plan for our country and for those He has allowed to come into positions of authority. He is perfectly aware that many of us have been shaking our heads for months over the political circus and were surprised at those chosen for the final leg of this journey. Many people found it hard to choose because they had issues with both of the candidates. The good news is that comfort can be found in Scripture. The Bible is full of hope for us, we just have to search it out.

One such story that comes to mind is found in the book of Esther. The King’s right-hand man plots and schemes until a directive was signed to rid the kingdom of all Jewish subjects; which by the way would include the Queen, unbeknownst to the King. Though God’s name is not mentioned once within the book; it’s obvious He is active throughout the events.

Then there’s the mighty victory of Gideon whose army was whittled down from 22,000 to 300 men. These were impossible odds for success, but with God on their side, nothing was impossible! The key is for us to stir up our faith and trust God; remind our self that He is Sovereign and in control; He not only has a plan but it is a purposeful plan for a good outcome for His people.

We like David must encourage ourselves in the Lord. 1 Samuel 30:6 “And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

God is mighty and does mighty exploits. We must remind ourselves that God is faithful and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Below are some verses that you may find helpful:

    I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 ESV

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1b ESV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened,                                                        and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV

                         

Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4 ESV

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,  what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:22-27 ESV

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
 When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
 Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident. Psalm 27:1-3 HCSB

“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

There are 365 fear not scriptures. Many scriptures can be found about hope, peace, trust, comfort, etc. When I find myself in need of encouragement, I find key words and Google to be particularly helpful (key word + scripture).

May His grace and peace abound to you!

BitterSweet

It’s good to sit down to write again. Life has been quite busy and full of surprises both good and challenging. This year has been lightening fast, and it is hard to believe November is here. November is a bittersweet month around our house. We love Thanksgiving and all the traditions, celebrations, and family times. At the same time, it is a time we remember some dear family members who graduated to their heavenly home; many whose home-going was during the month of November. November is also the month my husband and I have the pleasure of celebrating our anniversary.

I remember as a little tot; it was November when I attended the funeral of my Grand-daddy and my Great-grandmother. I’m not sure why the time of year stands out in my memory. Many years later, we also buried my husband’s beloved brother in November 1985; followed by my Mom and Dad in 1996 and 2003 respectively.

Today it has been twenty years to date since my Mom took her heavenly voyage way to young! (Just a few years older than me) As you might imagine, I have been reminiscing a bit as the day has approached. I have remembered special times and fond memories, thinking how much she would have enjoyed her seven great-grandchildren and looked forward to the new little one soon to be born.

Today also marks another special day in November; another reason to be thankful for all the Lord has done in our lives. It marks the end of a season, a labor of love that has resulted in the birth of a dream. Conceived in childhood, implanted in 2014; finally a reality today.

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Now available at Amazon.com or  https://www.createspace.com/6544403. I can’t help but wonder just what my Mom and Dad would think…

By God’s unfathomable grace, I am able to hold tight to Him and His grace to face all that November brings into my life; both good and challenging! Every single month for that matter. Life is full of wonderful and wonder-filled moments and it is important to remember each one! It is also filled with many challenging times when we must hold on to our faith, His grace and all that is good in our lives just to take our next breath! His grace is sufficient for every situation!

Be Blessed and may His grace and peace fill your days!

Are We In Focus?

 

Almost three weeks since the last blog, and what three weeks it has been! One thing right after another either for us or for those we love; sometimes both at the same time. It seems as though everyone is struggling with several things and all at once. I am not sure whether this is just a season or a sign of the times in which we live. But one thing is sure. People are struggling daily. We are surrounded by news of floods, fires, earthquakes. We are inundated with this political party declaring that if that party gets elected, we are doomed. Consequently, the other party is repeating the same doom and gloom message about the first party. Major events and happenings that were once considered newsworthy to the public have taken a back seat to celebrity gossip, the rehashing of a story from months ago that they just will not let go of, and slanderous political accusations. It is no wonder people struggle with anxiety and fear like never before; on top of dealing with the things everyday life throws our way we are bombarded with more news than anyone was ever intended to handle. Much of it bad news.

The question that looms before us: What’s a person to do? How do we live in a 24 hour a day world, overloaded with information, see violence and acts of terror paraded before our eyes live on the news or our computer screens? How do protect ourselves from becoming anxious bundles of nerves just waiting for the other shoe to drop?

I realize there is a flip side to the coin, and all isn’t doom and gloom. There is still a beautiful world out there, and there are excellent and kind people all around us. Beauty, grace, love, mercy are all around us, ready to be found. Many would ask where?

We Need to Find Balance and Focus

     Exactly 84.51% of my words so far have focused on what is wrong, only 46 words (15.49%) focused on more positive factors. We need to find a balance in the things we allow to penetrate our thinking and find more positive things to focus on as we walk through life. We need to be intentional about what enters through our eyes and ears because it has an enormous impact on our thoughts and our emotions. I fully believe that is why Paul told believers in Philippians 4:8-9:

 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
                 whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (NASB)

     I have often heard the saying that you become what you behold. I would have to tend to agree with this theory. When you are constantly bombarded with negative reports, bad news and subjected to negative attitudes; it is not uncommon to find your thoughts and reactions becoming anxious, negative and perhaps even fearful. Perhaps that is why there are approximately 365 different scriptures in the Word of God that relate to the concept “fear not, do not be afraid.”

One of the things I learned during the season my son was stationed in Iraq 2004-2005 was that it isn’t healthy for me to tune into the news. Occasionally watching was okay but for the most part, I avoided the world news and replaced it with time spent praying for those on the battlefields. Praying for their safety and provision of needs was hands down better that listening to the news and wondering and worrying about the safety of our soldiers and my son! Watching the news would have made me crazy!

Romans 12:2 tells us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NASB) How do we do this? How do we renew our thinking or soothe our anxious thoughts?

Just like we get rid of a bad habit by replacing it with a better habit; because just stopping the bad habit is never enough for long term success. We also need to look at our thinking the same way. What are the things we are focusing on that are causing anxiety? Fear? How can we change our thoughts, so they instill faith rather that fear and peace instead of anxiety? Back to Philippians 4, we think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute. Another tactic that works for me is to search out God’s promises in the area I am struggling. Here Google is my friend. I will search God’s promises for peace or scriptures on comfort. What does the Bible say about fear? There’s a whole lot of comfort and peace in the words penned by godly men throughout the centuries, and they are much more relevant today than most people think.

Lastly, I have found prayer very helpful in the process of changing my thinking and dealing with the hard things in life. It doesn’t have to be a formula, just sitting having a conversation with my Heavenly Father. Telling Him what’s on my heart, what’s happening and how I feel about it; asking for wisdom and understanding and sometimes even a little tattling on someone. (Just look in the Psalms, King David did too!) I follow with a time of listening, waiting… sometimes He will bring scriptures to mind that minister to my heart; sometimes a nudge to open the Bible and just read a passage and wisdom will be revealed; other times I sense I need to wait for the answer. Later I may hear an appropriate message from a Christian communicator; or a trusted friend may say just the right thing seemingly out of the blue, but it’s not. I find great comfort in knowing He hears, and He answers in His timing; just when we need it the most.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.
Conclusion
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.”
1 Peter 5: 6-9 HCSN

“Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

May His grace and peace be with you!

Abandoned but Not Forgotten

Today, as I began week 2—day five of Beth Moore’s new Bible Study Entrusted, the topic is a difficult one. Paul, nearing the end of his life and facing execution is writing to Timothy, his son in the faith. The title is “Left and Found.” The focus is this passage found in 1 Timothy 1:

 “Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you. 15 This you know: All those in Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he obtain mercy from Him on that day. And you know very well how much he ministered at Ephesus.” (HCSB)

One of the focal points was verse 15 where Paul says “all those in Asia have turned away from me. Paul felt deserted by people he once was close to. If we continue into the next verse, we find that though Paul felt deserted, he was not forgotten! He goes on say that Onesiphorus searched for Paul actively when he came to Rome. He fervently searched until he found Paul and when he did Paul found refreshing and comfort because this man was not ashamed of Paul’s imprisonment. Paul felt abandoned, but he was not forgotten!

We live in a world that is not so different. Our dress, technology, and customs may be far removed from ancient Rome, and our prison cells may be quite different; but people are not so different. Scores of people everyday struggle with feelings of loss, desertion or abandonment. Often in those times feelings can be overwhelming. Suicide is rampant in the world today because hopelessness can set in when there seems no way around or through the problems that the person is facing. Sadly, hopelessness is happening at younger and younger ages. Just Tuesday night I heard of a middle schooler who had succumbed. Perhaps that is why this passage struck me, and I was compelled to share it with you.

Paul had spent his life for Jesus Christ since the day he met Him on the road to Damascus. In 2 Corinthians we see that it was not an easy life.

“Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods by the Romans. Once I was stoned by my enemies. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers; labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.” 24-27 (HCSB)

We don’t know how long it was between Paul feeling deserted by his friends and the time Onesiphorus showed up bringing refreshing and acceptance. What we can surmise based on scripture is that Paul, though in chains was still serving God through the letters of encouragement and instruction that he wrote during his imprisonments. Despite his sufferings and feelings of abandonment, he held tight to the hope he had in Jesus Christ. He held fast to his faith and walked by faith, not by sight or feelings. Because we have his letters as a testimony, we know God had not abandoned Paul. At just the right time, Onesiphorus showed up, and Paul found needed encouragement and refreshment to stay the course. Perhaps not in Paul’s timing but in God’s perfect timing He showed up for Paul.

Not only did Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus, he spent his life following Christ and encouraging others to “follow me as I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV) He spent a lifetime learning the ways of Jesus, and learning his identity in Christ. He set an example in his life; teaching and mentoring others to do the same. This activity is what enabled him to keep the faith in the difficulties of life. Paul knew who he was without Christ, and he knew who he was because of Jesus. Knowing our true identity in Christ Jesus can make all the difference in how we face life; especially in the difficult times!! But first, we have to know! We have to search it out and then we have to have faith to believe it is true.

“Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.” and they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” Isaiah 62:11b-12

 

 

Entrusted A Study of 2 Timothy by Beth Moore is available today at LifeWay Christian Bookstores. #Entrusted Study