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Monday, December 24, 2012

He Came


 
"Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2: 10-11 NKJV
 
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17  NKJV
 
Merry Christmas to all who read this post! I don't know where the time has gone, but here we are celebrating the birth of Jesus again. 
 
It seems like only yesterday that I was writing a blog entitled "Christmas: Past and Present." During our 2011 Christmas Eve celebration with the children, grandchildren, and extended family members, my husband had asked each of our four children to take turns reading a portion of what I had written.  I was unaware that this was going to be a part of our evening. However, it was apparent that my written words were as meaningful to everyone present as they were to me. Being the sentimental one in the family, I cried as each adult child read their assigned part. :) This Christmas Eve, we plan to read about the birth of our Savior from Luke, Chapter 2.
 
I have posted a song above entitled, "He Came", by Tommy Walker.  Our church choir, praise team, and orchestra presented a beautiful rendition of this song today in the service.  I am so thankful that Jesus came and that God sent His only Son to the earth just for us! Jesus was God; yet man. He lived a sinless life while on the earth. However, the Bible says that He was tempted in every way that we are (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, He can relate to the joys and the trials that we go through.  
 
Through God's plan, Jesus' humble birth in a stable, His ministry, His death on the cross, and His resurrection were necessary for the redemption of mankind. Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins--past, present, and future. To know what love really is, just look at what He did for us on the cross. None of us are deserving of the depth of His love. But, that's what grace is all about!!
 
Hanging there on the cross, Jesus got what He did not deserve, so that we, who do deserve death, could have forgiveness of our sins and enter into relationship with Him. That relationship is what the Christian faith is all about. Knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior gives us hope (assurance) of a future life--nothing like the one we have now. This hope of eternal life that we have within us is found in the many promises of God's Word. His resurrection conquered death, left the Holy Spirit to live within us and to guide us in our walk of faith. Through His Word, we are given the assurance that one day we will be with Him in heaven.
 
I pray that you will be filled with God's love, peace, and joy; and that each day throughout the coming year, you will find room in your heart for Jesus Christ. 
 
PRAYER:  Dear God, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, into the world.  Thank You for a plan to redeem the souls of man.  We know that You love us, because we are Your creation.  Help us to live our lives in such a way that we project the love of Jesus to everyone around us. Help us to stand firm in our faith, for we know that You want us to finish well in our walk of faith here on earth.  Give us strength and Your Spirit to direct us in every aspect of our lives, giving up our own desires for Yours.  These things I humble pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
 







Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Redeemed


 
"For 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)

"For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God." Romans 3:23 (NKJV)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

"But now, this is what the LORD says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1 (NIV)

For some time now, I have not had opportunities to sit down and write a blog.  My days are filled with good things, but they are full.  My evenings sometimes consist of meetings or catching up on needed household chores.  My husband and I are involved in a ministry that also takes up a significant portion of our time.  Then, throw a few other things into the mix, such as church, consulting business, and caring for a precious 10-month old grandchild each day, and you've got a very busy lady whose time for writing is limited. But, make no mistake about it, I miss my writing time very much, and I miss the opportunity of connecting with those who read my blog. 
 
A couple of weeks ago, my small group leader gently asked if I had stopped writing my blog.  He said, "I used to enjoy reading it." I could not help but feel a bit of sorrow as I assured him that I did not intend to stop writing and that I knew the Holy Spirit would give me a message at just the right time. So, tonight, I sat down to my computer, thinking I was going to write a blog entitled, "When God Has Another Plan." I guess God had another plan for my writing tonight! You will be able to read that one in the future, but as of now, this is what seems to be pressing on my mind.  Perhaps someone out there has a need to read what I have to say.  If so, then my job is done.  So....Bob (small group leader), here goes!!

Because we are all human, there are mistakes and failures along the road of life. We sometimes make poor choices that are not pleasing to our Creator. The Bible calls this sin. It's a word that doesn't sound pretty. It doesn't sound pretty, because sin isn't pretty.  Mentioning sin--talking about it, is also becoming more and more unpopular in today's politically correct society, and even in many churches. But, this word is used over and over in God's Word, because God has never, nor will He ever like sin. Sin is breaking a law of God. He is offended by it and it hurts Him when we sin. But, even still, He loves us.

I suspect there are many people who truly relate and "feel" the words of the song posted above entitled, "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave. Yes, I know it isn't a song written by Fanny Crosby or Charles Wesley or some of the other ancient hymn writers, who, no doubt, were inspired greatly by the Holy Spirit. These great hymns have stood the test of time and continue to minister to me, inspire me, and give me great hope through the message of their words.  But, the above song also has a message and I believe the lyrics and music are divinely inspired.  It's about how God can take any one of us and change our lives.  It's about how He can clean us up, and in spite of ourselves, use us in various ministries and give us a testimony of His faithfulness to our lives.  In doing so, we are able to tell others what salvation through Jesus Christ has done for us and can do for them, if they will only believe.

The Christian life does not guarantee that we are spiritually immune to slipping, falling, hurting ourselves and/or others.  But, through our faith in Jesus Christ, there is a process in which the unpleasant sounding word of "sin" can be replaced by one that gives much comfort, assurance, hope, and peace. That word is "redemption." 
 
Webster's Dictionary defines the word "redemption" as follows: "The act of redeeming; rescue; ransom; that which redeems; salvation."  Redemption is the process of being rescued or brought back to the safety of the fold. Redemption brings us to a place of rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

How wonderful to know that God loves us enough to rescue us time and time again when we fail Him.  In human thinking, we might compare it to that of a parent who has gone through many difficult situations with a wayward or rebellious child.  Any loving parent will freely give the love that is deep within their hearts to that son or daughter and welcome them home with open arms.  This is what God does for us.  Jesus is our Shepherd. He cares for His sheep and He will always rescue the one who has gone astray and return that precious one to the safety of the fold.   

How thankful I am to say that I have been redeemed and am not the person I used to be.  Even more importantly, I am thankful that I am not yet who I will be, for God is not finished with me yet! 

PRAYER:  Dear God, thank you for redeeming me through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, thank you for loving me, for saving me, and for walking with me through this life.  You are everything to me and I love you.  Please bless each person reading this message and bring hope and restoration where needed.  Give peace and comfort in every situation that might arise in each of our lives.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shelter Me




 
Have you ever been caught in a situation where you needed to find shelter? A long hike, a thunderstorm approaching, not being familiar with your location and a bit of anxiety would certainly be one situation in which physical shelter would be needed. Seeking shelter would be the logical thing to do in order to find proection against the approaching storm.

I first heard the song, "Shelter Me" by Bruce Carroll a few weeks ago as I was listening to Pandora Internet Radio. It really struck a chord with me because many times in my own life I have needed to find shelter from the storms that raged around me. Thankfully, I have always been able to have physical shelter--a safe place that I call home. Rather, my need at times has been to find spiritual shelter. Sometimes, I wandered out in the storm before seeking the familiar shelter that I know all too well. But, eventually, I would round the bend in the road and there it was--a beautiful sight--a place to rest and be safe and comforted. My personal shelter. 

On the many occasions that I have desperately sought the comfort and shelter of God's presence, I have never been disappointed. His Word gives me hope and strength and peace. I am so thankful for this! The deep love that I have for my heavenly Father and for Jesus Christ, my Savior has made such a difference in how I handle difficult situations. The ability to go to Him in prayer and share my hurts and fears gives me the assurance that He is listening and that He answers according to His will for my life and for those around me.  

If you feel the need to seek God's shelter due to situations that are presently surrounding you, or if there are circumstances in your life that seem to be beyond your control, just remember that you have a Savior--Jesus Christ, who wants to bring you peace and hope. He will shelter you from any storm that you may face now or in the future because He specializes in calming the storms. 

PRAYER:  Father God, thank You for sheltering us from the storms of life.  Through Jesus, we have the ability to rest safely in the Shepherd’s arms at all times.  Help us to trust You always, knowing that You love us beyond comprehension.  I pray this in Jesus name.  Amen.  

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!  For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.  Psalm 55:1 (NKJV) 

A Shelter In The Time of Storm

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.
A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.
The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.
O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.
Words: Vernon J. Charlesworth, circa 1880
Music: Ira D. Sankey, circa 1885 
 
 *It was said that this was a fav­o­rite song of the fish­er­man on the northern coast of Eng­land, and they were oft­en heard sing­ing it as they ap­proached their har­bors in the time of storm.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Be Still My Soul



“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

I LOVE MUSIC! It speaks to me in many ways. It refreshes me and calms my soul. Music makes me happy and joyful, lifts my spirits, and heals any hurt that I might be experiencing at any given time.

Because classical music is something that my husband and I enjoy, for a number of years we held season tickets to the local symphony. Once a month, we looked forward to dressing up, going to dinner, and then spending a relaxing evening at the symphony. It was always exciting to see and hear such talented musicians who were affiliated with the symphony, as well as an array of wonderful guest soloists.  Symphonic music has always been much better than a tranquilizer for me!  And, yet, there is another type of music that motivates my soul in ways that cause me to be amazed and extremely thankful. 

More often than not, much of the inspiration that I receive to write my blog comes as a result of a lyric and/or melody of a Christian song. Most of the time, the melody is secondary to the lyric, because words and their meaning are very powerful. Whether the song is an old hymn that I have known since childhood, or a much “younger” contemporary Christian song, music always offers inspiration and strength in my walk of faith in Jesus Christ.   

The song and beautiful slide show which is posted above entitled, “Be Still My Soul”, sung by Amy Grant, spoke to me tonight. In fact, it caused me to stop what I was doing and led me to focus totally on God.  And, the neatest thing happened! In the stillness of thinking about what an awesome God I serve, focusing on His many attributes, the blessings given so lovingly to me and to my family, and my desire to be all that He wants me to be, my soul was refreshed and renewed.  I was reminded that in my busy days, extra effort should be made to use my time more wisely for Him--to keep singing His songs. 

How is your soul doing tonight?  Are you so rushed and distracted with the things of the world, that you don’t give God the time He deserves?  Of all the things I may or may not know about Him, the one thing that I do know is that He overwhelmingly loves you and me! He created us in His image. He wants to spend time with each of us so that we might know Him and our Savior, Jesus Christ more fully.  He desires a relationship with us like that of a father to a child.  He wants an intimacy with us that will only come when we are still before Him.  He won’t force any of us to come to Him, but if we do, we will find peace, safety, deep joy, and true happiness that will fulfill us not only for the present time, but for eternity.  His love is boundless.  Tonight, why not take time to be still before God.  Think on Him.  Talk to Him. Abide in Him.  He’s there and He is waiting with open arms. 

PRAYER:  Father God, we love You and are so thankful for the opportunity to be still before You.  To know that You are God.  You alone are worthy of our praise.  Thank You for music that soothes our souls. Thank You for songs of faith that lift our hearts and give us inspiration.  Thank You for those who were inspired to write these songs.  In these perilous times in which we live, please reach the world with Your Son, Your Spirit, Your Word, Your music, and Christlike love which can only be exhibited through those of us who profess Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord.  I pray this His name, the name above all names. Amen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Through It All



What a powerful thought as I am reminded that amidst trials and hardships, Jesus has been my source of strength.  It has been through these times that I have learned to depend upon His Word and more fully rely on Him as my help.  God does not always bring us around storms, but walks with us through those times so that we might learn to trust Jesus more fully.  As the words to the song posted above say: "If we never had a problem, then we would not know that God could solve them, nor would we know what faith in Him could do."
 
At this writing, I am still learning to lean on Jesus, and to trust Him as He directs me in ways that I could never have imagined. He is my total source of strength.  I pray that He is the source of your strength today as well.
 
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2-3
 
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

PRAYER:  Dear God, thank You for staying beside us through the tough times.  Help those who may be going through such a time to fully rely on You for their strength.  May they place their trust in Christ alone.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.












Sunday, August 26, 2012

Never Once



This morning at church our worship leader, Terry, sang the song posted above, entitled "Never Once", by Matt Redman. As Terry progressed through the song, how humbling to see people all over the building begin to stand acknowledging the words to this song as applicable to their lives. For me, truer words have never been written. Never once, have I ever been without God's grace, love, mercy, care, and forgiveness. God is definitely faithful and true to His Word. I have never been alone, nor will I ever be.  That's a great place to be!
 
PRAYER:  Dear God, thank You for Your faithfulness and for always always walking beside us through our victories and our struggles.  Thank you for loving us enough to be our constant source of strength and hope.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.










































Monday, August 13, 2012

When I Don't Know What To Do



This song touched my heart tonight.  All of us have times when we cannot find the right words to say to someone else or even to God. Inevitably, all of us go through tough times as we seek His will for our lives, and as we strive to be all that He wants us to be. 

I pray that your spirits will be lifted by this song, knowing that even when you don't know what to do or say, by praising God and seeking and trusting Him in your situation, you will have all that you need.  He will never let you down!

Prayer:  Thank You Father for the words to this song.  Help us to always look to you in all ways as we strive to live our life showing others our love for them through our faith in Jesus Christ.  Amen.




Sunday, August 12, 2012

God So Loved the World

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." John 3:16-17. (NIV)

Our Pastor's message this morning was entitled "Love One Another." I want to also share some of my thoughts along this theme. The Pastor stated, "That as Christians, we are set apart--no longer our own, and are called to proclaim God's praises." We are called not only to love God, but people everywhere. We are truly called to love one another. We are not called to love only those who look or think like us, but ALL people. No matter what our differences or how others may treat us, we are called to love unconditionally. Many people might mistake this for weakness on our part, but this is far from the truth--this is our strength!

Personally, it took me more years than I would like to admit to begin to sense just how much God loves me. I failed Him so many times and felt totally unworthy of His love. You know what? I was unworthy, and still am today. But, through a closer walk with Him, and a deep desire to study and learn from His Word, I now have an inkling of His enormous love for me. No matter what circumstance may come into my life, I always feel God's presence and love. Although I will never be able to grasp the scope of that love in its entirety, I am confident that someday I will. One thing that I am certain of beyond a doubt is that there has never been, nor will there ever be a love like His. And, I am so thankful because this is where my inner peace originates--His unconditional love for me through Jesus Christ--and my deep love for Him. 

Through God's love, mercy, and grace we are set free to love others. We are able to share what a difference knowing Him has made in our lives. The most amazing thing is that God loves all of His creation equally. His unconditional love is never dependent upon a person's current relationship status with Him. God is good and His love endures forever. Let us go forth and love others in the same way.

During the morning message, we saw the video with song below by Charles Billingsley and I wanted to share it. 
  
PRAYER: Father God, thank You for loving us unconditionally. Now, help us remember to always love others in that same way. We need Your strength and help to do this, but we know that Your love, grace, and mercy extends beyond our abilities. We ask you to do Your work in us as only You can. Help those who feel that you have abandoned them to look into Your Word and rest on the promises found therein. I pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tell The Mountain

"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be removed, and be cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he said shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he said." Mark 11:23 (KJV)

"Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

At this very moment, there are many people who are hurting physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  At first glance, most of us would never see the hurts of others.  But, if we dig a little deeper and invest some time into another, there is no doubt that we will find that person bearing the weight of some stressful circumstance--either theirs personally, or that of a family member, friend, or acquaintance. In this life, no one is exempt from experiencing tough times.

Many are hurting today because of a lack of employment, thereby creating financial stresses. Still, others are burdened with relationship or health issues. Some lack direction for their lives. For those who do not have financial worries, it would seem that life should be better than ever before. However, so many continue to look for the happiness that is missing deep inside. The world simply cannot fill the void.

In a "happening now" situation, I am personally praying for a young woman whom I have never met.  The fact that I have never met this woman is not unusual, for I often pray for others, both near and far. But, in this particular situation, my heart is extremely heavy because of the circumstances that surround this young woman.  There is a spiritual void in her life, because she has never been exposed to the Truth. Based on the darkness of her circumstance, there is no doubt that she is living a life where hopelessness reigns. I am praying that God's mercy will overflow in this situation.  May He bring hope in the midst of such darkness.

Fervent prayers are also going out for the person who will be ministering to this young woman and who will be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus.  I am praying that the gentle Shepherd will hold this dear one safe in His arms and that God's protection will be the covering that allows the Holy Spirit to be free to work through His special servant.  I am praying for a willingness on the part of the hurting individual to be receptive to hear about the hope that Jesus Christ offers her. Knowing that with God all things are possible and that He works in ways we don't understand, I am believing, praying, and trusting that God will be glorified in this situation.

What challenge(s) are you facing today? Perhaps, you have a mountain that you feel you cannot climb. Maybe your circumstances are not are dire as the person that I have referenced above, but still you are facing a mountain--health; job situation; relationship issues; or a myriad of other things that are weighing you down. Always remember that God's Word is full of promises that He will take you through every circumstance you now face or ever will face.. He will give you peace as you walk through tough times. There is a light at the end of your tunnel and His name is Jesus!  He will see you through.

Posted below is the song, "Tell The Mountain", by The Collingsworth Family.  Don't ever give up. Don't ever give in.  Always tell your mountain just how BIG your God is! Put your hope in Him, for He will see you through. 

PRAYER: Father, God, you have heard my heart.  You know my prayers for this woman--one of Your own creation who needs you so much.  Please give her mercy and grace through this mountain that she faces.  Dear God, give the dear one who goes forward in faith to minister to her Your supernatural strength.  Give her peace--no fear, no anxiety, and the assurance that she speaks as the representative of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I pray for all hurting individuals no matter where they may be.  Give them the desire to know You and to learn of You through the many promises that are found in Your Word.  Give them the hope that comes from knowing Jesus as their personal Savior.  I pray this in His mighty name--the name above all names.  Amen. 






Wednesday, July 18, 2012

10,000 Reasons

"A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name." Psalm 103:1

"In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name." Psalm 33:21

"My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever."  Psalm 145:21

Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice." Psalm 105:3
Tonight I am sharing a message in song. "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman, is such a powerful song; one that is anointed and rich in both lyrics and melody.  By focusing on the words and their deep meaning, this song has brought me into a deeper worship of our Creator ...."ten thousand years and then forevermore."  I hope it will do the same for you. 



PRAYER: Father, God, we worship Your holy name.  You alone are worthy of our praise!  It is with thankful hearts and excitement that we sing the words to this song, all the while, just wanting to convey in some way how much we love You. Thank You for calling us to be Your children.  In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen.










Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sunny Side of Life

The Rainy Day
THE DAY is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
And at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

In the poem above entitled ‘Rainy Day”, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the last two lines read as follows: “Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.”  All of us know this to be a true statement, for we’ve experienced times when the going gets pretty tough.  In my own life, there have been some dark days---days when I didn’t feel that the sun would ever shine again.  But, I am so thankful that it doesn’t rain forever.
The seasons of life seem to be somewhat cyclic.  Someone once said that we are currently experiencing tough times, or we have just come through them, or we are about to go into them.  We may experience times of our own trials or suffering, or walk through the same with those whom we love.  There are many twists and turns to life and at times each of us becomes weary and tired, sometimes feeling that we are battered beyond recognition.
So, here are my questions: What kind of outlook do we have about life and how to live it?  What does it take for us to get through the storms of life?  When these storms come so hard that we cannot see through the pouring rain, what do we do?  Where do we go for help?  Do we try and get through these times using our own strength or do we depend on friends to help us make it through? Do we have a spiritual faith as our source of help and comfort?  
In this blog, I want to introduce you to a very special lady.  Although, I never had the pleasure of meeting Una “Nanny” Payne, it is through her grandson Derick, and his wife, Joyce, that I have learned much about her. Nanny Payne was a lady whose philosophy of life needs to be shared, and I hope that I am able to do justice to who this precious lady was and what we can all learn from her legacy.  
Derick and Joyce have fondly and lovingly shared insight into what made Nanny Payne so special. They  have shared their belief as to what caused her to leave such a lasting impact on her children, grandchildren, other family members, and friends.  Simply put, Nanny Payne chose to “keep on the sunny side of life.”
Born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada, Nanny Payne passed away at the ripe old age of 95 years.  She was a sincere Christian woman, not one given to gossip or hurting others. She loved studying the Bible, especially the Psalms and Proverbs.  Derick stated that his grandmother used to say to him, “You know, there is everything in this Book to guide us through life and thereafter.” Her outlook on life was based on that statement.  She would tell her family, “It’s hard to love those we disagree with, but we must anyway. We are to love others, not demonize them because they don’t fit into our little groups.” She quoted I Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” Loving others was something Nanny Payne knew would bring honor and glory to God.
Nanny Payne taught her family that “there is good in everyone you know, but we may have to look harder for the good in some folks.”  She realized that underneath the rough exterior of that difficult person, some hurt may have caused them to seem calloused and bitter.  Even though that might be the case, Nanny Payne chose to find the good in everyone.
Now we come to Nanny Payne’s philosophy in life, which all of us can take to heart.  Because of her strong faith in God, she always said that no matter what our circumstances, we need to “keep on the sunny side of life.” The song by that title which is posted below was her favorite.  She sang it very often. She literally lived the song and left the legacy of its meaning to her family and to all who knew her.
Nanny Payne kept her sense of humor until her dying breath.  On her deathbed, awakening to consciousness, she waited until her daughter and son-in-law were present. She first told her daughter goodbye, and then to her son-in-law she said the following: “Oh, it’s just like Archie Bunker.  We’re all here like All In The Family.” This was in keeping with one of her favorite one-liners, “A day without laughter is a day that is wasted. Laughter is good for the heart and soul.” Nanny Payne laughed until the very end!
To sum it up, Nanny Payne lived by what she believed the Lord wanted her to do. She read God’s Word and she applied it to her life, and she passed these truths on to her family: “Treat others the way you want to be treated; don’t be miserable; keep on the sunny side; laughter is good for the mood, attitude, and soul; say your prayers, and be thankful for the life God has given you.”
Thanks to Nanny Payne, she has left an amazing legacy for her family.  The family members that we have met definitely display her philosophy of life. They carry her in their hearts and they live their lives as she taught them.
Thank you, Nanny Payne, for your words of wisdom. Thank you for the impact you have made on me, even as I write these words. Thank you for causing me to think more about how I want to live my life—always “on the sunny side.”  You have reminded me that life is short and I must live it to the fullest—living and loving my heavenly Father, my family, my friends and those with whom I come in contact each day.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the life and legacy of Una “Nanny” Payne.  Thank You for giving me the words to honor her and her family. Help each of us to learn  and apply her godly wisdom and philosophy to our own lives so that we might be happier, more loving individuals to everyone we meet.  May our actions bring glory and honor to You always. I pray this in Jesus name.  Amen.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Resting Place

"For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." 2 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV)

"Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28  (NLT)

"For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing." Jeremiah 31:25 (NLT)

This past Sunday, while on vacation in Canada, we attended a wonderful church service with our friends. The song, "My Faith Has found A Resting Place" was one of the songs we sang. It is an old hymn that I had not heard in many years.

Little is known about either the author of the hymn text, Lidie, H. Edmunds, or the source of the tune other than that it is an old Norwegian melody. The hymn in its present form first appeared in the hymnal Songs of Joy and Gladness, published in 1891. (Source: Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions.)

The words of this song are the foundation upon which I base my faith.  The words to the chorus say, "I need no other argument, I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me." This fact alone is enough for all Christians to rest their faith upon. 

Our faith can find a resting place when we are weary and carrying heavy burdens.  In the midst of trials and suffering we are able to find our rest in Jesus. During tough times, by leaning on the written Word of God, we have the assurance that nothing more is needed.  Our anchor in Christ will hold steady through these times of difficulty. 

Has your faith found a resting place?  Is it enough that Jesus died, and that He died for you?  My prayer today is that this song will testify of your faith in God and that you have already asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord. 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being all that we need.  Thank You for loving us unconditionally.  Our faith is based on the sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us on the cross, believing that He died for our sins, and accepting Him as our Lord and Savior. Because we believe this and as we lean on Your written Word, give us wisdom and strength so that we might be good representatives of what it means to be a Christian.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence to all of our family and friends who are American citizens, wherever you are.  I am so thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy because of the sacrifice and dedication that so many men and women have made over the years, and still make to our country. We thank you with all of our hearts.

Likewise, and most importantly for me, I am thankful for the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross so that each of us might have everlasting life through Him.  Having a personal relationship with Him brings freedom and joy deep within that simply cannot be found elsewhere.

The song posted below entitled, "The Statue of Liberty", has been one of my favorites for many years.  My prayer for America is that we will look to God for needed answers in this time of difficulty and divisiveness, and that we will find peace and hope not only for our great country, but for ourselves. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank you for the privilege of living in this great land called America.  Even though we see many difficulties presently and on the horizon, Lord, just continue to bless us and lead us.  Please give godly wisdom to our leaders and help us to continue to be a beacon of hope for those who are less fortunate.  Thank you for all you have done for this country called America.  I pray this prayer with a thankful heart in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.





Friday, June 8, 2012

A Life Transformed


       
Sunday evening, May 27, 2012, in a church near my hometown in East Texas, I sat with other family members waiting for the service to begin. Feeling emotional (in a good way) about what was to take place, I fondly recalled a photograph of two sun-tanned and barefoot children standing among tall rows of corn where they had played many times. No doubt, these two had to cease their adventures long enough for one of their parents or siblings to snap the photo.  At the moment the picture was taken, these two little country kids had no idea what lay in store for them as they embarked on their journey into adulthood. There is no doubt that God had a plan for each of their lives (Jeremiah 29:11).
The picture that I referred to above is one I will always look back on and remember with a smile, for it is a picture of my brother Jimmy, and me.  Of the seven children in our family, Jimmy and I were second and third from the youngest.  It will come as no surprise that we played together, fought together, and experienced all the things that siblings do who are close in age. Being three years younger than Jimmy, there were many times that I aggravated him to no end, but in this writing we’ll just skip that part!
Our attendance at church that evening was special because Jimmy and his entire family attend church there each week.  However, the most special thing about the evening was when Jimmy had the opportunity to give his personal testimony of a life transformed through faith in Jesus Christ, as well as a message of how we as Christians ought to live.
Jimmy has given me permission to share some of his testimony and message. Naturally, because he is my brother, it is my desire to honor him for what the Lord has done in his life. More importantly, for those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as Savior, my hope is that they will understand how much God loves them;  that regardless of the type of life they have lived, He longs to forgive, to wipe the slate clean, and to make them into a brand new person.  This is what faith in Jesus Christ did for my brother, for me, and for all who have turned to walk in a new direction--a wonderful path that leads to eternal life.
As he began, it was clear that Jimmy’s message was being directed by the Holy Spirit. We were touched as he thanked his wife, Janice, for always being so supportive of him, even when he wasn’t living for the Lord.  Jimmy stated that for many years he ran from God, always making excuses as to why he didn’t go to church or live as he knew he should.  Still, during those years, he was thankful that without fail, Janice read the Bible to their three daughters each night.  She took the girls to church and she continued to pray for him.  Then, one day, Jimmy came to the place where he knew he had to stop running from God and at that moment he made a personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ.  This was a wonderful turning point in his life.
Reading from the Bible in the book of Matthew, Chapters 6 and 7, Jimmy spoke about how Christians ought to live.  When talking about how we should help others who are less fortunate than ourselves, and those who have fallen on hard times, he said, “If someone needs $20.00, give them $40.00.” He also read scripture from Matthew 6:1-4 that tells us we should not brag about helping others because God knows our hearts and sees what we are doing, and will reward us accordingly for our good deeds.  Over the years, Jimmy and Janice have helped many people and both have such giving hearts. I have never once heard them brag about their good deeds.  A member of my immediate family has been the recipient of their love and generosity, for which I will be forever grateful. Jimmy and Janice definitely practice the model that our Lord Jesus Christ has given us of showing compassion and tangible support to those in need.
Something that touched me greatly was a story from some years back that I had never heard. Not surprisingly, Jimmy stated that he seldom ever told this story. While emphasizing the importance of how the church and we as Christians should always strive to meet the needs of others, Jimmy told the congregation of an apparent homeless man he saw one morning in a local store.  The man was scrounging around in his pockets looking for enough money to buy a cup of coffee. When he could only come up with 23 cents, the store owner impatiently told him to “just go ahead and take the coffee.” The man went outside and sat down at a picnic table.  Jimmy followed him out and also sat down at the table.  Here he began to ask the man a series of questions: “Where are you headed?” “What’s your story?”  “Where did you sleep last night?” “How long since you have eaten?” The man told Jimmy that he had lost his job, and had walked over 75 miles in an attempt to get to a town further north where he would be able to find employment. His wife had died and his son had been killed in the military. He had slept in nearby woods overnight. Someone had bought him a hamburger the previous day. After obtaining this information from the man and discerning that there was no harm in him, Jimmy then gave him a ride into town and bought him breakfast.  Upon finishing the story, my brother said the only thing he regrets about that day is that he was not yet living for the Lord; therefore, he was not able to share his faith with the man.  I believe that God used Jimmy to be helpful to this man by showing a genuine interest in his situation. Therefore, he was a witness to the man.  He did what Jesus would have done. He showed the man kindness and compassion, and he fed him.  In His divine providence, God knew that Jimmy would be led to tell this story many years later as he stood sharing a message in the pulpit of his church, and that its impact would remind each of us how we should always treat others. What a great example of Christ’s love in action! In addition, this story also serves to remind us how God places us in the middle of where He is working, even if we don’t realize it until years later. There was a purpose for Jimmy’s encounter with this man.  It was not by accident, but rather a divine appointment—one that was for  specific purposes. 
From Matthew 7:1-5, Jimmy read scripture that tells us we should not judge others, lest we be judged.  It is easy to find fault in others and not look within ourselves to see our own faults, so we must be careful not to be judgmental.  We must love others and treat them as we would want to be treated. We must love others as Jesus did.
I love my five brothers and one sister very much, and all of their spouses.  What a wonderful thing it was for us to have been raised in a home where Christian principles were taught and practiced.  We are a family of givers and it only seems natural for us to help others who are in need. What a comfort and encouragement it is to see how the Lord has blessed all of us in so many ways. 
Because of our family’s spiritual heritage, I stand in awe and am extremely humbled and thankful for the good work the Lord has done in Jimmy’s life and the life of his family members.  After he began going to church, Jimmy was baptized, and assisted in the baptism of several family members.  I don’t know of anything that would bring more joy than this type of family commitment, and I am so thankful for their dedication to the Lord. 
As Jimmy said in his message that Sunday evening, “God will forgive any sins you have committed and He will give you a clean heart if you ask Him.”  He will pour His Spirit into you and you will never again have to remain enslaved to the things of the world that have no lasting value. 
Jimmy read the poem, “My Prayer Was Answered” during his message and I wanted to include it in this blog, as it definitely reminds us how God knows so much better than we do what is best for us.
My Prayer Was Answered
“I asked for strength that I might achieve;
He made me weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given grace that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness so that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
                 I received nothing that I asked for, all that I hoped for,
My prayer was answered.”
Author unknown…possibly the prayer of a Confederate soldier.
Prayer:  Father, God.  You are wonderful! You love us and are not willing that anyone should perish. Thank You for answered prayer and for prayers that have been offered up to You. Even though we have seen no visible answers at this time, Your Word tells us that nothing is impossible with You.  So, we continue to believe that You will come through for us in Your timing; for we know from past experiences that You are never late. Thank You for the mighty work you have done and are doing in Jimmy’s life and the life of his family.  Help them to be a blessing to those who are hurting, and in turn, bless each one of them in a mighty way for their faithfulness to You.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.   

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!  Mother's and grandmothers are special and have a purpose that God created them for before they were born.

I am thankful to have had a mother who taught her children by the way she lived life. She was perfect in my eyes--a wonderful Christian woman--humble, gentle, and full of such a deep love for her family. She taught us how to love God and others. Although she is in heaven, I still miss her so much and am comforted by the fact that one day we will be reunited. 

I want to share the following excerpts from the Wisdom Hunter's Devotional, entitled "A Mother's Love", written by Boyd Bailey.  It speaks to my heart and expresses my own feeling as to the Christ-like characteristics my mother possessed.

"As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children” (1 Thessalonians 2:6b-7).

"A mother’s love reflects the love of the Lord, deep in its capacity and generous in its application. She awakens in the middle of the night to nurse a hungry infant or care for a sick child. Her intuition injects love at points of pain and in situations that require extensive encouragement. A mother’s love lingers long in conversation and understands with her sensitive heart. She loves, because Christ’s love compels her to love like Him.

Moreover, a mother’s love is loyal and longstanding. A child may be in trouble, but Mom is always close by, full of compassion and acceptance. Her love can be blind in its loyalty, but her offspring never doubts where they are welcome. Jesus was rejected by angry, jealous men and abandoned by His closest friends, but His mother was waiting with Him to the bitter end, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…” (John 19:25a).

A mother’s love even has the capacity to be a mother to those who are not biologically her own. She opens her home, shares her food, gives her time, dispenses her wisdom, and encourages obedience to follow Christ. Paul experienced this. “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too” (Romans 16:13). Moms sometime mother greatness not their own.

Lastly, a mother’s love is gentle; the way God is gentle toward His children. He calls us to love and to lead like Jesus. Love serves people and does not rule with rigor. “God's servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey” (2 Timothy 2:24, TM)."


Thankfully, my mother was the type of person Mr. Bailey speaks of in his devotional. How thankful I am for always knowing mother would  welcome me home in spite of my failures and poor choices. This is also how our heavenly Father is.  He loves us in spite of our failures and bids us to come to Him for rest, safety and comfort.   For me, knowing that He loves me that much gives a peace deep within that nothing else can even come close to giving. I pray that each of you have, or will, experience this peace in your heart and life.  God bless.

Prayer: Father, God.  Thank You for the privilege of motherhood.  Help each of us to continually look to You for guidance in our role as mothers and grandmothers. Lead us in love to be the kind of role models that You desire, so that we might gain the respect and love of our families.  I pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.











Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Standing on the Promises

Last night at my Bible study class, I learned that there are over 30,000 promises found in God’s Word.  God, through the Holy Spirit, reveals Himself to non-believers through the promises and instruction found in His Word.  For the believer in Jesus Christ, these promises will strengthen and provide encouragement through each season and circumstance of life.

God showed His great love for mankind through the promise of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  (Luke 2:8-14 and Matthew 1:21)   There could never be any greater love shown to us than that of Jesus Christ laying down His life, so that we might believe on Him and one day spend eternity with Him in heaven. 
God’s promises are also meant to help Christians grow spiritually.  The more we study His Word, the more we trust God in all circumstances. The many promises found in God’s Word are needed at different stages in our life and in the varying circumstances that we face.   If we are hurting, afraid, anxious, discouraged, doubting, tempted, needing peace or guidance, or overcome by guilt, trials, and monumental circumstances that have left us feeling defeated, rest assured that God’s Word will never fail. His Word comforts beyond what we can imagine. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8).  He is God.  He does not change (Malachi 3:6).  Through His Word, He says what He means and means what He says.  
I am very thankful for God’s Word and the promises found therein.  His Word is a “light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet.” (Psalm 119:105) Therefore, I rest in Him with the joy, peace and calm assurance that I am His and He is mine.  I have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose by a life spent serving Jesus Christ.
I found the list below in my Bible.  I do not know how long it has been there or where it came from, but these thirty-two scriptures and references prompted my writing tonight.  These promises of who we are in Christ give us reason to rejoice. Truly, we have been set free through His shed blood on the cross.
The Word of God says we are:
1.      “Justified by faith, at peace with God and standing in His grace.”  Romans 5:1-2
2.      “Justified by His blood and saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  Romans 5:9
3.      “Reconciled to God through the death of His Son, and saved by His life.” Romans 5:10
4.      “Made righteous by the obedience of Christ.” Romans 5:19
5.      “The righteousness of God, in Christ.”  2 Corinthians 5:21
6.      “Crucified with Christ and no longer a slave to sin.” Romans 6:6
7.      “Dead in Christ and freed from sin.” Romans 1:7
8.      “Dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ.” Romans 6:11
9.      “Not under law, but under grace.” Romans 5:14
10.  “Freed from sin and have become a slave to righteousness.” Romans 6:18
11.  “Made dead to the law through the body of Christ, and joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead.” Romans 7:4
12.  “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
13.  “Set free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:2
      14.  “Not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” Romans 8:9
15.  “Led by the Spirit of God, and are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14
16.  “Called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
17.  “A conqueror through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
18.  “Sanctified in Christ Jesus, a saint by calling.” I Corinthians 1:2
19.  “Alive in Christ.”  I Corinthians 15:22
20.  “Comforted in all affliction so that I may be able to comfort others.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
21.  “In Christ, and therefore a new creature.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
22.  “Reconciled to God, through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:18
23.  “Delivered out of this present age.” Galatians 1:4
24.  “Not justified by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 2:16
25.  “No longer a slave, but a son, an adopted son, an heir through God.” Galatians 4:7
26.  “Set free by Christ.” Galatians 5:1
27.  “Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Ephesians 1:13
28.  “Raised up with Him, and seated with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6
29.  “Saved by grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
30.  “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Ephesians 2:10
31.  “Delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Colossians 1:13
32.  “Reconciled in His fleshly body, through death, in order to stand presented before Him, made holy, made blameless, made beyond reproach.” Colossians 1:22

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus today, please ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Word.  He is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). You must come before Him with a willing heart and believe that He is who He says He is; that He can do what He says He can do; and that through Jesus Christ, you can begin a new life of forgiveness, salvation, peace and eternal life apart from that which you are presently experiencing. 
Prayer:  Dear Lord, You alone are God.  There is no other. Thank You for the many, many promises found in Your Word.  So many times, we hold on to these promises in desperation, and at other times, we look to these promises with joy, anticipation, and excitement.  Thank you for meeting our needs during the different seasons of life’s circumstances.  Bless all who read these words and use them for Your glory and Yours alone.  I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.
Song: Standing on the Promises, written by R. Kelso Carter (1849-1928), sung by Alan Jackson.