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Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Beginnings

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:18-19
 “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’  Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’.  He said to me: ‘It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son.’”  Revelation 21:5
“A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35
A few years ago, my husband and I attended a wonderful Christmas Pageant at a large church near Houston, Texas.   A modern day version of the Prodigal Son, this drama production was a powerful story of faith in God, unconditional love, and unrestricted forgiveness.
In spite of their busyness during the Christmas season, and even though they were surrounded by others, the husband and wife in the play were missing one family member.  Having chosen a life of sin and rebellion, their oldest son, Michael had left home five years earlier.  Living inside a homeless shelter, and with no hope of being reunited with his family again, Michael felt extremely lost and alone.
Of course, back home there was a different outlook on the situation.  Michael’s Christian parents and other family members longed for him to come home.  The entire family had prayed for his return, and their only desire was to welcome Michael home and make up for the time that had been lost by his absence.
As the story ended, Michael did come home to his family.   With God at the center of their lives, Michael’s family members were able to give him the unconditional love and forgiveness that he needed.  This act of mercy from his family now enabled Michael to have the new beginning that he so desperately needed and wanted.
Because we are human, all of us have needed new beginnings in our lives at some point in time.  We have all needed unconditional love and forgiveness from God and others; and we have also needed to extend that same love and forgiveness to someone else.  
As we begin this New Year of 2012, I pray that each of us will seek whatever new beginning we might need in our own life.  Without reservation, may we also be willing to show others the same love and forgiveness that Jesus has shown to us. At this moment you may know someone who needs a new beginning.  With God's guidance, won't you act in love and mercy as you show support for that person through the change that is needed.  You could very well be the conduit that God will use to turn a person's life around.  I can think of nothing more eternally valuable and humbling than knowing that God has used you for some great purpose.
Happy New Year, friends!  May each of you be blessed with God’s love, peace, and joy. Thank you for your support in reading my blog articles in 2011.  With God's help, I will continue sharing those words that burn in my heart for my family and friends.  I am humbled by those of you who have connected with my blog from many countries around the world.  Please know that I believe God has a word of encouragement for you.  I am praying for you and will continue to do so. 
Prayer:  Dear God.  In love, grace, and mercy You have watched after us for another year.  Thank You for walking beside us this past year.  Thank You for Your presence in our lives through the good times and during times that have been more difficult.  We are humbled by Your desire to give us new beginnings.  If it were not for Your mercy and grace, we would still be stuck in the muck and mire of our own failures and sins.  Thank You for unconditional love and forgiveness, so that in turn we might show the same to others.  We are all in need of Your touch on our lives each day.  Bless each person who reads these words.  Please give them faith, strength, and the desire to trust You for each of their needs.  Through You, may 2012 be a year of hope and peace for all of us.  We pray this in Jesus name.  Amen.
All verses of scripture are taken from the New International Version of the Bible.  To read the biblical account of the prodigal son, you may find it in Luke 15:11-32.

Gaither Vocal Band - Alpha and Omega


As we come to the end of 2011, we look forward to 2012 and new beginnings.  What ever your need, please know that our God is definitely a God of new beginnings.  I am so thankful for that!  Love this song by Gaither Vocal Band.  Hope you enjoy.













Monday, December 26, 2011

~He Is God~

He is the First and Last,
The Beginning and the End!
He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be ...
Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone!

He was bruised and brought healing!
He was pierced and eased pain!
He was persecuted and brought freedom!
He was dead and brought life!
He is risen and brings power!
He reigns and brings Peace!
The world can't understand him,
The armies can't defeat Him,
The schools can't explain Him, and The leaders can't ignore Him.
Herod couldn't kill Him, The Pharisees couldn't confuse Him,  and The people couldn't hold Him!
Nero couldn't crush Him, Hitler couldn't silence Him,
The New Age can't replace Him, and "Oprah" can't explain Him away!

He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure.

His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me.
He is my Savior,
He is my guide, and He is my peace!
He is my Joy,
He is my comfort,
He is my Lord, and He rules my life!

I serve Him because His bond is love,
His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life.
I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomers.

His goal is a relationship with ME!
He will never leave me,
never forsake me,
never mislead me,
never forget me,
never overlook me and
never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!

When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!
When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I am broken, He mends me!
When I am blind, He leads me!
When I am hungry, He feeds me!
When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face persecution, He shields me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home!

He is everything for everybody everywhere, every time, and every way.
He is God, He is faithful. I am His, and He is mine!
My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world.
So, if you're wondering why I feel so secure, understand this...
He said it and that settles it.
God is in control, I am on His side,
and that means all is well with my soul. 

Everyday is a blessing for GOD.  Author unknown.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

God's Love Reaching

Gloria Gaither author, songwriter, and composer so eloquently expresses God’s incomprehensible love for mankind as He reached out to us through the birth of a baby named Jesus—His own Son, and Savior of the world. I hope that you will be blessed by the words below:
His Love……………Reaching
“Right from the beginning God’s love has reached, and from the beginning man has refused to understand.  But love went on reaching, offering itself.  Love offered the eternal….we wanted the immediate.  Love offered deep joy….we wanted thrills.  Love offered freedom….we wanted license.  Love offered communion with God Himself….we wanted to worship at the shrine of our own minds.  Love offered peace….we wanted approval for our wars.  Even yet, love went on reaching.  And still today, after two thousand years, patiently, lovingly, Christ is reaching out to us--right through the chaos of our world, through the confusion of our minds.  He is reaching….longing to share with us….the very being of God.
Today, His love is reaching right past the shackles of my mind. The Word of the Father became Mary’s little Son.  And His love reaches all the way to where I am.”  Gloria Gaither.
What a comfort and joy to know that God still waits and longs for every person on earth to personally share in relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus; that even today, God’s unconditional love continues to reach down to us right where we are, scars and flaws included.  He is in the business of changing hearts and lives. That's why He came. There is no greater love than this.
May each of you be blessed this Christmas season with God's love, peace, and joy.  May your hearts be light and your love for one another be generous.  Merry Christmas!!
Prayer:  Dear Father, it is sometimes almost impossible for us to comprehend Your great love for us, because we realize that we are not worthy of that love.  How wonderful to know that You see us differently than we see ourselves. Thank You for never giving up on us. Thank You for reaching out to us through the love of Your Son, Jesus.  We celebrate His birth in thankfulness for what He did for us on the cross and with a greater desire to follow Him all the days of our lives.  We pray this in His name—Jesus, the Name above all names.  Amen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas: Past and Present

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel – which means, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:21-23
As a child Christmas was always a time of happiness for me and my family.  Thinking back, it seems that our “real” life stood still for a while and only those things that were fulfilling and nourishing to our hearts were present.  Perhaps what we saw and felt was Christmas in its purest form.  We saw Christmas through the eyes of a child. 
As children, my siblings and I looked forward to having treats such as fresh fruit, nuts, and candy during the Christmas season. Only our mother could make chicken and dressing, homemade yeast rolls, fresh grated coconut pies, chocolate pies, and yes, even fruit cake to perfection!  These delicacies were special to my family because we seldom had them during the remainder of the year. To this day, I love walnuts because as strange as it may sound, they are a comfort food for me. They take me back to childhood celebrations at Christmas time.  Now, I am very pleased to find that the walnuts I eat most every day are actually good for me!
Every Christmas, our dad purchased regular firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, and sparklers. After eating our meal and opening gifts, my brothers and I would build a huge bonfire outside and begin our fireworks show.  Not nearly as expensive as fireworks tend to be today, we had more than enough to last an hour or two.  More than once, I remember the pain associated with a lit firecracker going off in my hand.  My brothers also experienced this same pain, but we never let it stop us from continuing.  For some reason we were always competing with our neighbors and felt a sense of satisfaction if their fireworks ran out before ours.
Looking back on Christmas seasons as a child, I can guarantee that there was no rushing to buy that special gift for a family member.  Life was so simple then and the older I get, the more I find comfort in the memories of those times.  On one occasion, our mother sadly told us there was no money for Christmas gifts that year. But, because of what I call a “divine miracle”, a few days later mother found a $20.00 bill stuffed inside the pocket of one of my daddy’s coats that he had not worn in a long time. I remember the discovery as vividly as if it were yesterday and shall never forget the look on my mother’s face!  There was no hiding the fact of her thankfulness to God that her precious little ones would have a gift for Christmas. Today, from my own heart as a mother, I can easily put myself in my mother’s situation and feel the joy, relief, and thankfulness she had for this Christmas miracle.
Each year at Christmas time, our church would hold a special program on the Sunday night closest to Christmas Day. The program would consist of Christmas carols and other reminders of the true meaning of our celebration.  After the program, there was much excitement in the air because we children knew that Santa himself would walk through the door any moment shouting, “Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!”  In his red Santa suit and with a large sack of goodies slung over his back, one by one each child would go forward to receive a special gift--usually fruit, nuts, and candy. For as long as I can remember, Santa never did let us down! How loved and special we felt that he came to church to bring us gifts! 
The activities surrounding Christmas that I have related in the preceding paragraphs are very special to me.  It was a simple life full of happiness and joy.  As my siblings and I grew older and left home many things changed for us, but the tradition of our family gathering on Christmas Eve at my parent’s house, even into young adulthood with our little children in tow, did not change.  Although my parents have been deceased for many years, these precious memories will always live inside of me and I shall forever be grateful for the God-given peacefulness in our home at Christmas time.
Today, I often experience the rush of the Christmas season. On occasion, I tend to become overwhelmed with it if I do not keep things in the right perspective and remember what the season is all about in the first place.   In so many ways, I wish that our children and grandchildren could experience what my siblings and I did—merely the simplicity of it all.  There was no pressure on my parents to buy the latest and greatest items for their children. They were providing what they could. We did not expect more than that, nor did we ever complain.  Putting it plainly, we were satisfied and grateful for what we received.  Simple things like fruit, nuts, and candy brought us joy.  We experienced love and togetherness as a family and that was enough.    
Over the years, my husband and I have patterned our Christmas traditions very similar to what we knew as children.  We gather at our home on Christmas Eve with our children and grandchildren, just as we did when we were children. We share a meal and exchange gifts.  We sometimes have my mother’s homemade yeast rolls and orange roll cake.  We drink Ray’s mother’s special hot chocolate—a recipe that he finally duplicated through experimenting until the taste was just right.  Because we live in the city, our elaborate fireworks show is not allowed, which is a shame because our children and grandchildren would love that part of the evening!
Ray and I are very thankful that our family members look forward to spending time together during the Christmas season and that they are establishing their own holiday traditions for their children. As all of us grow older, we know that our time together will not always be as consistent as in earlier years.  Already, we have one granddaughter and her husband who are living in Asia and have not been home for the past two Christmas seasons. We miss them so much. However, our wonderful memories of this precious granddaughter now and when she was a child remind us that our family members will always be in our hearts, whether they are present in our home or not. 
Now that I have indulged the readers of this blog with the reliving of my past and present experiences at Christmas time, I must say that there is one aspect of the Christmas season that is always in my mind and on my heart, no matter where I am or what I am doing.  It is the greatest story ever told! Christmas is a time for giving because God gave us the greatest gift He had—His Son Jesus. It began with the birth of a baby whose coming was foretold by Old Testament prophets long before He came to earth. This baby, born in a stable over two thousand years ago was not just any baby, but God Himself who came to earth in human form to redeem mankind. Christmas is remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Believing on Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior is the greatest and most important gift that I have received or ever will receive.  It was with a childlike faith and a trust in Jesus that I accepted this gift. Whatever you do, don’t miss your gift for it has eternal implications for you!  It is free and available to all.   Remember, a childlike faith and a trust in Jesus is all it takes for the Father to receive us.
So….what does Christmas mean to you? Do you become overwhelmed with the commercialism of Christmas? Is the Christmas season a depressing time of the year for you? Is it a time to give and receive gifts, eat lots of wonderful food, attend parties and socialize with friends?  Does Christmas have any significant spiritual meaning to you?  Is it a time to focus on helping others  who are less fortunate than yourself? Do you take the time to focus on the true meaning of why we celebrate the season?
Please take some time to think about the preceding questions.  Search your heart and see if you have the right focus this Christmas.  Take time to be still before God and think about the gift He gave you through His Son, Jesus.   And if you have not already done so, accept this free gift.  You will never see Christmas in the same light again.  That I can promise you! 
Prayer:  Dear God, thank you for Jesus.  He is the reason that we celebrate the season.  In a time where political correctness tries to stifle our ability to celebrate Your gift to us , please help us never to waiver in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Help us to always do this for Your glory, and Yours alone.  Bless each person reading this article and give them reason for hope, happiness, and fulfillment this Christmas season through your Son, Jesus Christ.  I pray this in His name, the One who died to bring sight to the blind, heal the brokenhearted, and give peace and joy to all who believe on His name Amen.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gaither Vocal Band - It's Still The Greatest Story Ever Told (with lyrics)

Finding Balance in a Busy Season

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty."  Zechariah 4:6

Most of us lead very active lives.  This is especially true during the Christmas season.  While many of our activities are good and worthwhile, if we aren't careful we may become overwhelmed with all that we need to do in such a short period of time. We need to find ways to balance our juggling act so that we are able to enjoy the season.  Listed below are three ways that we might be able to better manage our time:

1.  Take one day at a time, seeking God's guidance.  Give Him first place in your life and in your daily plans.

2.  Write a list of the things that you absolutely have to do that day.

3.  Don't worry over what you failed to accomplish yesterday or what you hope to accomplish tomorrow.

By remembering the above verse of scripture---that it is not by our power, nor by our might, but by God's Spirit that we accomplish anything worthwhile in the first place, and by enacting the three simple suggestions above, I believe that all of us will be able to manage our time in such a way that we are free to enjoy this special season of the year with joy and enthusiasm instead of frustration and worry. 

Prayer:  Father, God.  Thank You for loving us and for Your mercy and for Your strength.  Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world.  Help us to manage our time in such a way that even in the “busyness” of the season, we never forget the true meaning of Christmas - that Jesus is the reason we celebrate.  We pray these things in His name.  Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In God We Trust

You always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I’ve ever heard this twist on the story. I liked the meaning and want to share it with my blog readers. Gives you something to think about…..  The unknown author writes:

"Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband’s employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so she was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this? ‘Look at it,’ he said. ‘Read what it says.’ She read the words ‘ United States of America .’ ‘No, not that; read further.’ ‘One cent?’ ‘No, keep reading..’ ‘In God we Trust?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘And… ?’

He explained, ‘And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as my response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful! ‘

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, ‘In God We Trust,’ and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient.."

God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes."  Psalm 118:9

Prayer:  Father God, it is in You that we place our hope and our trust. Help us to take the time to acknowledge that You alone are Sovereign and that it is You who bestows countless blessings upon us.  Thank you for those blessings and for the comfort you provide in times of trial or sorrow. Thank You for Your patience with us, for we are so undeserving of it, or Your great love. Thank You for Jesus Christ who bore our sins so that we might have freedom and eternal life.  Help us this week to look to You in every aspect of our life.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.
 


Natalie Grant - Your great name w/ lyrics

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Into His Care

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."  Psalm 91:1

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

There is no safer or more peaceful place to be than resting and relying on our Heavenly Father to meet us at the point of our need.   His wisdom, guidance, and care will ensure that we have all of His resources available to us at any time.  Reading and studying His Word gives strength, hope, trust, belief, and assurance that we are not alone. 

This week, why not place your cares on Jesus, the one who died for all mankind so that we might have freedom from sin and those things that are not in His best plan for us. The living water that He offers far outweighs anything the world has to offer us. 


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we love you.  We place our lives into Your hands.  Your plan for us is so much better than anything we can imagine.  Give us a total trust in You to fulfill Your perfect plan for our lives.  We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

God Never Turns Us Away

"Thomas came with doubts. Did Christ turn him away?

Moses had his reservations. Did God tell him to go home?

Job had his struggles. Did God avoid him?

Paul had his hard times. Did God abandon him?

No. God never turns away the sincere heart. Tough questions don't stump God. He invites our probing.

Mark it down. God never turns away the honest seeker. Go to God with your questions. You may not find all the answers, but in finding God, you know the One who does." ~ Walking with the Savior, Max Lucado

I have always enjoyed Max Lucado's writing.  His books have a way of getting to the heart of what the Christian life is all about.  He gives such a clear picture of who God is and what His purposes are for His children. Based on sound Biblical teaching, Max shows his reading audience how to apply Godly principles to their lives. The result is a strengthened relationship in their walk of faith in Jesus Christ. 

This I know from experience:

1. God knows your heart.
2. He will never abandon you.  
3. He will give peace when you seek Him with all of your heart. 
4. Nothing is too difficult for Him. 
5. He sent Jesus to seek and save the lost. 
6. He is not willing that anyone should perish.

Listed below are some scriptures that encourage me to believe and know without any doubt that God loves me with an everlasting love; that His love is not conditional; that I belong to Jesus, and because I do He will never leave me nor forsake me; that He will give me strength when I face personal trials; and that He will always listen to my heart's cry for those I love who are lost.  I am praying that you, my readers, will find safety and wonderful rest in the gentle Shepherd's arms today.  There is no greater place to be. 

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."  John 6:37

"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day."  John 6:39

"For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him."  John 17:2

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."  John 10:28

Prayer:  Father, God.  We are so thankful for Your unconditional love.  Thank You for loving us so much that You are not willing to see anyone perish.  Thank You for never turning Your back on any person who seeks You with an honest and sincere heart.  Help us to honor You all the days of our lives.  We love You and praise You.  It is in the mighty and matchless name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord that I pray this prayer.  Amen.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Children

"When you demonstrate love to your children, they gain a proper perspective of God. They learn to view the Lord as being a God of love and not wrath."
Quote from The Daily Way.


Children and grandchildren are our most precious assets.  The above statement seems extremely accurate to me.  Words that are spoken in harshness will often cause irreparable damage.  Those on the receiving end of a critical spirited person are left deeply wounded.  It is impossible to be a godly role model and give clear vision of who God is when one speaks out of anger. I pray that all reading this will stop and think before they speak.  May the words they say be pleasing to the Lord and not damaging to the recipient.  There is already enough brokenness in this world. 

Prayer: Father God, help each one of us to think before we speak.  Give us kind and life building words to say, or help us to say nothing at all.   May we model the gentleness of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Good Points to Remember

The most important things in your house are the people.
As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home every day.
God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.
There is no key to happiness.  The door is always open.
Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted.
Do the math…count your blessings!
Faith is the ability to not panic.
If you worry, you didn’t pray……if you pray, don’t worry.
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
Dear God, I have a problem and it’s ME!
When we get tangled up in our problems God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.
Author Unknown

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jesus - The Answer to Our Peace and Happiness


When I am afraid, He is my shield!
When I am worried, He is my solution!
When I am happy, He is my song!
When I smile, He is my reflection!

The above statements were on my Facebook wall today and I wanted to share them, along with some corresponding scripture.  Whether today is a happy and worry-free day for you, or a day where you are feeling alone and discouraged, may you be comforted to know that by turning your focus to Jesus, He will bring you out of the depths of the despair that you are currently experiencing.  Why will He do this?  The answer is simple--because of His great love for you.  Jesus will walk beside you through every storm you face.  He is the One who will turn your dark days into joyful ones and give you a song in your heart.  Because of the love that He gives, none of us have reason to fear or worry, but every reason to be happy and joyful.  Today, focus on Him and His love for you.  Find scripture in God's Word that will strengthen and help you.  Go to God in prayer and throw yourself at His feet.  I know that He will meet you there because He has been there for me so many times. 

May you be blessed today.  May you be happy, joyful, and worry-free as you turn your eyes upon Jesus.  By doing this, the things of life will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. 

FEAR
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

"Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."  Isaiah 43:1

WORRY
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  Matthew 6: 25-27

HAPPY
"But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful."  Psalm 68:3

"A happy face makes the heart cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."  Proverbs 15:13

REFLECTION
"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

Prayer:  Father, God, please help each person reading this blog today to turn their eyes upon Jesus; to look into His face and realize that He loves them beyond measure; that He wants to take their sorrows, worries, burdens and anxieties away and replace them with His unconditional love and perfect peace.  May they find joy in knowing that they are safe in the gentle Shepherd's arms now and forevermore.  This I pray in the precious name of the One who died for all sinners, so that they might have eternal life by believing on His name...the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Note:  All scripture taken from New International Version Bible.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quote

"As we've seen, everything that grieves the Holy Spirit involves how we treat one another. But we need to add an important truth to that understanding; if you have bitterness in any area of your life, you have poison in your system. Bitterness poisons you emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically."  Quote from Robert Morris' book entitled, The God I Never Knew

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Blue Jeans Welcome!"

 “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? Now you have insulted the poor. James 2: 1-6
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment!” James 2:12
While passing a local church today, I noticed that the church’s marquis sign read: “Blue Jeans Welcome!”  Of course, the sign is letting people know that they are welcome to attend that particular church in an informal clothing style if they wish.  It is a “Come Just as You Are” to Jesus message similar to the song by Kathy Triccoli that I posted below this article.
Today, many churches (including my own) are changing to a more informal style of conducting services. These noticeable changes, which seem to be at the heart of much discussion and sadly, much division among church members are as follows:  

        1.  Style of music.  Incorporation of more contemporary praise and worship songs and less of the more traditional hymns.
        2.   Less emphasis on what type of clothing a person wears. Many churches are reaching out to people who would be reluctant and uncomfortable to attend for reasons of not meeting the “standards” of the church dress code.
Right off the bat, I will let the readers know that I am in the group of people who learned the  traditional hymns of the church, and still know most of them by memory.  These hymns continue to bless me in so many ways. Their words have deep meaning to my soul.  There is no question in my mind that the writers of the old hymns were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.  But, at the same time, I am blessed by the upbeat and lively contemporary praise and worship songs.  I see and feel a freedom to praise and worship Jesus with these songs, and to me that gives merit to them.  A great number of these songs have a melody added to words straight from scripture, and with that said, we could safely say that they are also divinely inspired. 
At a young age, I was also taught that I should “dress up” for church.  My best dress was always starched and ironed for Sunday church services. This was my upbringing and I carried these habits into adulthood.  It is with gratitude to my parents that I was taught to recognize Sunday as a special day – the Lord’s Day.  However, today there are many young adults who were not taught the same practices as my parents taught me.  Consequently, they are not teaching their children these practices, either.  Because of this, we now find many un-churched young families living in our communities. 
While I will always believe that we should give our best to God and be respectful and worshipful in His house, I feel that perhaps Satan is enjoying the shift of focus to the controversies over the style of music we sing and the type of clothing we wear. Our churches are riddled with these issues and it is easy to see how the real purpose of the church is being hindered.  So, I ask myself these questions: 
What would Jesus be wearing if He were here among us in human form today?
Would Jesus care about the outer shell or would He be looking deeper into our hearts to see if we possess an honest and wholehearted desire to enter into worship? 
Would Jesus be looking to see if we came to church with an excitement to abide in His presence, regardless of the style of song we sing or the way others are dressed? 
Would Jesus be sitting on a soft church pew in a coat and tie, or would He be dressed down in order to relate to the poor man on the street, or the lowly and downtrodden, or the young man or woman who says there is no God and needs the love and patience that only Jesus could give?  Would Jesus be available to meet that young man or woman right where they are today?
Based on His own words found in scripture, there is no doubt that Jesus would be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49) seeking to save the lost wherever that took Him; to bind up the wounded, bring sight to the blind, and heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18). Jesus would help those with physical, emotional, and more importantly, spiritual needs.  Jesus met people where they were. He ate with sinners (see Matthew 9:10-12 below) and approached the Samaritan woman at the well whose reputation was less than stellar (see John:10-14 below).  During that particular encounter Jesus told this woman about the living water He offered that would leave her never thirsting again. 

Today, Jesus still meets people at the point of their need.  Jesus’ own disciples were uneducated and none were who “we” would have selected to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.  Jesus chose them so that they would bear witness to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them, so that God, not they, would receive the glory.  God’s Word bears witness to the fact that He can take the lowest of sinners, or the least educated among us and turn their lives around, making them bold witnesses to the power and saving grace of Jesus Christ.   
For many people my age and older, these changes in church tradition are a very serious issue.  Some cannot adjust to it, and that’s okay.  What is right for one individual is not necessarily right for someone else.  Others are able to go forward and pray that God will help them to be productive members of a changing church.  The last scenario is where I find myself. I am thankful to be adjusting and learning to appreciate the differences in both styles of worship.
I do not believe that we will sing hymns or contemporary praise and worship songs in heaven.  Dear friends, it is going to be so much better than that. Our feeble minds cannot imagine what it will be like.  All I know is that we will be praising Jesus and whatever form of music that takes is okay with me! 
I write this article today because I am burdened by this controversy within our churches and within our families.  My prayer is that we will always keep our eyes focused on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ; that we will be good role models for our children, grandchildren, and all young people; that we will lay aside OUR preferences for the desire to come back the true heart of worship.  Only God can bring us to that point through the work of the Holy Spirit within us.  God is so much bigger than our preferences.  It’s neither hymns nor contemporary songs that will make us true worshipers, nor is it our clothing preferences, but I believe the answer is found deep within each of our hearts. My prayer is that each of us will allow God to strip away our preferences in exchange for an overfilling of the living water that Jesus offered the Samaritan women at the well.  Then, as a church, we will be able to meet in one accord to worship and adore the Lord our God.  This is where I want my focus to lie.  How about you?

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-12
“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:10-14

Prayer:  Father God, please help us to strive for harmony within our churches and our families over this controversy or any others that might arise.  We belong to You.  We are not our own.  We have been bought with the price of  the precious blood of Jesus.  Help us to be obedient children so that we might radiate Your love to others.  Help us not to miss what You want to do in our lives for Your glory.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.
All scripture taken from New International Version.

Come Just as You Are

Friday, October 28, 2011

Love Them Anyway - Quote

"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway."   - Mother Teresa

Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't Look Back

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  Philippians 3:7-9   (NIV)

"But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3: 13b-14 



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Third day- King of Glory

Boundless Love

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16, NKJV

"Do you doubt the love of God? Why? Because of the bad things that He allows to happen to good people? Because of the unfairness and injustice and unkindness and misery and suffering and pain and cruelty of life? Some questions we won't have answers for until we get to heaven. But one thing we can know for sure is that God loves you and me. How do we know that? We know it by just looking at the cross where He proved His love for the world that mocks Him and ignores Him and despises Him and scorns Him and rejects Him. We look at the cross and see "I love you" written in red - the red of Christ's blood."   Anne Graham Lotz

The above quote by Anne Graham Lotz is one that I totally agree with, based on God's Word.  We are not meant to understand why some things happen as they do. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Isaiah 55:8. Here, God tells us that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. He has a greater plan than we can ever imagine, and in the end, it will be amazing! 

We learn many things from the Bible, but there is still so much that we are not privileged to know at this time.  Our finite minds could not handle it, because God is God and we're not!  As the old song says, "We will understand it better by and by."  I agree with that statement, but I am not sure it will really matter that much, because we'll be in the presence of Jesus and our focus will center on praising and honoring Him for eternity for what He did for us on the cross.  To the Christian, there is no greater promise than one day seeing Jesus face to face.

The song below is an older Southern Gospel song that was introduced by The Cathedrals Quartet and has become a timeless testament to the boundless love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  I hope that you are encouraged by the words.

Boundless Love

There is not a mother, sister, friend, or brother
Loves the way that Jesus can
He proved His love for me when He died on Calvary
He gave His life for fallen man

His love is a boundless love
And it reaches down and touches me
His love is an endless love
That will last for all eternity

Jesus wants to love you, there is none above you
You are precious in His sight
He will never fail you when the doubts assail you
He’ll be with you day and night

Author: Dianne Wilkinson

Prayer:  Dear God, thank You for giving unconditional and boundless love that reaches out to each of us.  Help us to accept that love willingly and with humbleness.  Truly, there is no one who can love us like You can.  Give us peace in the midst of the storms that rage around us, and help us to trust and never doubt that in the end, seeing Jesus face to face will be worth it all. This we pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.