Saturday, July 12, 2008

An Answer, Yet A Question of Trust

Have you ever had an answer come to you that only made you wonder what that answer meant. Having gone through some changes in our lives and adjusting to a new phase of living, I was leaving a grocery store's parking lot as I heard the words. "I'm preparing you."

"God's preparing me? God's preparing me. God's preparing me ! . . . but what for." I shared this thought with a close friend. She asked me, "Could this be for a good thing or for something bad." I had to tell her, I didn't know.
It will be interesting to watch God work this preparation out to His Glory.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Following My King


I'm Glad He's In Control


When I get through my day, I have to stop and realize I have made it through because God is in control. If I were calling the shots I would have given up a long time ago. This applies to my daily routine as well as those special times of being very involved in things in my world.
God is in control of my time. He knows when I need to be doing things around the house. He is in control of my resting and my activity. He allows me to fall asleep when I am especially worn out. He wakes me each morning before the alarm clock rings.
He guides me through the decision-making process when I am working on my projects. He instructs me as I go through each step of the way.
This He does out of His grace.

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I Am Not The Same Person

I have concluded I am not the same person I was in 2003. Please let me explain. I have grown spiritually from the struggling daughter of Christ who decided to worship elsewhere from her church home of 17 years. This change in my persona has come gradually but it has come through being in the presence of God through prayer, Bible study ,and meditation. I was not aware of this change until 1.)I was reading Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, my devotional book for this year. 2.) I was faced with the fact of the closing of that church I called my church home for 17 years. Was God real when I worshipped there? Yes, He was. Did God orchestrate my life so He could speak to me after I separated from them? Yes, He did. Did God show me some things I needed to give over to Him? Yes, He did. Did He deal with me when I messed up? Yes, He did, very much so.
When I started attending there, I was confused, scared, frustrated and depressed. God put some very strong Christians in my path. They loved me as I was. They loved my family as it was. I have lifted the people who stayed up in prayer as best I could.
Today that church had its closing service. It was a bittersweet time. I am glad I chose to attend this service and I am glad I was a part of that group for those 17 years. I still love the people and will continue to pray for them when I am led.

We Are Blessed

About eight years ago I was making a visual aid for a missions display for the church I was attending. It was a half sized model of a solar cooking oven that a missionary had developed in Haiti. The people living there needed a simple and inexpensive way to prepare meals because their national leaders had cut down all their trees in order to make charcoal. Some time in the 1990’s the supply of charcoal was exhausted. The nation of Haiti is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. The solar ovens, made of corrugated cardboard and covered with aluminum foil, answered a need for the families because of the extreme expense of electricity. When a person looked at this oven, the thought that came to mind was, “no way.” But I had seen photos of tables of food produced by these very small appliances. While I was making my model I thought, “We are blessed.” Later that evening, I found myself focusing on the many ways God has blessed us. I made an entry in my journal.
We are blessed –
* if we know God as our Lord./
* if we have a roof overhead. / * if we have clothes to wear./ * if we have gas or electric stoves. /
* if we have a few close friends./* if we have some good memories. /
* if we or someone close has been healed of a disease. /
* if we have good neighbors. /* if we have someone to laugh or cry with us. /
* if we can see beauty. /* if we can hear laughter. /
* if we can shed tears. /
* when we can enjoy God’s creation./
* when we can commune with God Himself./
* when we pause and listen to the birds. /
* when we watch children at play. /
* when we watch animals run to and fro./
* when we pray for another’s need. /
We are blessed because God loves us and He sheds His grace upon us because of that great love for us.




The Eyes Of God


Give me your eyes, God /
To see correctly, /
To see not what offends me / But what offends You. /
I ask Your presence/
Throughout each long day /
I just want Your Will./ Help me as I work./
And when I relax,/
Choose my words, my deeds,/
Let them glorify You./ Step in and make those calls /
You deem important. /
I ask for Your eyes/
So I can see scenes /
As only You would./ I see my small piece,/
You see the big picture.
Quiet Spirit



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Easter Thoughts

Today was Easter Sunday, the most important day on the Christian calendar. But a lot of people don’t understand why we observe and celebrate on this day. To begin to understand it we need to understand who Jesus is and why He was here. He is the Son of God. He left the Father’s home to come to earth to show us God’s love and how to live in that love.
The people of Judea were looking for an earthly King. When Jesus claimed to be from God, the religious leaders thought He was a blasphemer, an imposter, a fake. He made claims about who He was that infuriated those leaders. They trumped up charges and took Him to Caiaphas’ home for a mock trial. Then they took him to Pilate’s palace. The ruling governor did not want to get involved; he believed Jesus to be innocent.
Very early in Jesus’ life, A prophetess named Anna told Mary that a sword would pierce her heart. Believers understand several things about Jesus’s life. 1.) God sent Jesus to earth for the purpose of having Him give His life for our sins. 2.) Jesus did this willingly.
The premise of the movie,”The Passion of the Christ” puts it very well. Jesus went to the cross for each one of us. Put another way- We, because of our sinful state, caused Jesus be nailed to that cross. I am thankful that Jesus willingly did this for me. I am also thankful He obeyed the Father and fulfilled the Father’s purpose.





Following My King


Living as God Wants

As we mature in Christ, we come face to face with issues where we have to choose the path we take. When we awake and have some aches or pains we need to remember, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice in it.
Recently, I chose to look at each day as a gift from God. Because of this decision, I have enjoyed taking CPR/AED training at work. I actually enjoyed working two late days in a row. About six weeks ago, my husband had an accident. The result of this accident is he has a broken ankle in two places. My plans for that afternoon got changed. I was able to notify those with whom I had made these plans. The activity went on as planned.
At the time of the accident, I didn’t know where this will lead. He had to have surgery. He has feared surgery due to another condition he has. We had to leave all this in God’s hands. Almost four weeks into his recovery, I had to resign my job. I have felt the prayers of my church family throughout these several weeks.
God has told us,”I will NEVER leave you NOR forsake you.” I am trusting Him to do as He said. He has never let me down yet.



Grace

We all have heard about grace. It is one of the dearest terms of Christendom. But what is it, actually? As I see it, grace is likened to a precious stone having many facets. Back in the early 1970’s I asked my then-pastor’s wife what was meant by grace. Her answer was interesting. She used an acrostic to explain it: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I have since reasoned that all we have from God has been granted to us only because Jesus Christ went to the cross in our place. One facet of grace is the idea of love of which we are unworthy. The fact that God loves us in spite of who we are or what we have done amazes me. The idea He loves the hardened criminal as much as He loves the sanctified soul sitting in the pew each Sunday and Wednesday night blows my mind. But God does love us equally.
Can we see grace in today’s society? Yes, we can but we have to use discernment in order to recognize it. We extend grace to another person when we forgive them for hurting us. We also practice grace-giving when we do a good deed for a friend.
How can we describe grace? Hymn writers have used words like amazing, and wonderful, and marvelous. Where would we be without God’s grace? We all would be lost and headed for the lake of fire.



Walking Worthy of Our Calling

Each year I chose a devotional book to use. I don’t always stay on track with my choice but I have done better than usual this year. The book I have chosen for 2008 is called “Strength for Today” by John F. Mac Arthur. Each month has a theme around which all the scriptures and reading and suggestions for for prayer focus.
January’s theme is Walking Worthy. In the first piece,the author says we join groups because we seek acceptance. Each group has certain prescribed guidelines members are expected to follow. He goes on to say that God has certain expectations of His children as well.
What does God want me to do? How does He want me to behave? What does He want me to do when I am in the marketplace? What does He want me to say when I am around my co-workers? What does he want me to say or do when I am around my friends? How does he want me to conduct myself with my neighbors? How am I supposed to act inside my home?
The above questions are on my mind and heart this day. I will be pounding Heaven’s door to find the answers to these questions of my heart. I know I am to represent Him before others but I realize I don’t do as good a job as I could.
I look forward to 2008 and what it brings.

When Hearts are Heavy

My heart is heavy- as are several here in our community. A friend has gone on to be with the Lord. I knew her first through my waiting on her at my job. Then she started attending the same church we do.
She made lots of friends at church. She always sat behind me and over to the right. She had her daughter with her when it was possible. But she always seemed to have her now-older grandson with her.
She had horses. At her calling hours, the family had a video-motage of her life. It showed her with her favorite horse and even showed her astride a horse on her honeymoon.
I only knew this lady about three and a half years- not long in the scheme of things. But she impressed me with her smile and her attitude.
A long-standing friend called me while I was at work today. I called her back. I hadn’t gotten to church this morning and she was concerned about that. She also did not know about this lady’s passing until this morning. My friend and I talked. I told her about the montage and what I knew about things related to the lady’s passing. I told her we needed to pray for the older grandson.
There were several of us from church sitting together at the funeral yesterday. We all had known the lady in different ways. She shared a pew with two of the women. She had worked on advertizing for a project with another woman. She had cleared brush on some property adjacent to our church’s property when we were permitted use of the land. One gentleman and his mother were there because they felt the need to support the lady’s daughter.
Our hearts are heavy but we know where this fine,beautiful lady is. We know we will see her again.



Blessings Around Us

As we go through our days, we should be more mindful of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. One of the patrons at the library where I work has been a steady patron, along with her two young children, for a couple of years now. Yesterday she took the time to tell two of us how thankful she is for us.
I decided to pass the blessing on to two of my friends. One has been a good friend for several years. She always listens when I have a concern about my life. She brought me some tapioca pudding she made last week when I felt at my lowest physically. I called her this morning to see what her day would be like and told her I was thankful for her. She reminded me that I am one of the few upon whom she can rely in a time of emergency.
The other lady, a fairly new friend, has established a faith-based ministry to a very specific group in our area. I told her how I appreciated her efforts to reach out to them. She called me an encourager. This was a special time for me. It tells me she recognizes one of my spiritual gifts.
God blesses us each day in ways He chooses. Sometimes the blessings come in the form of more work to do to help someone achieve a goal. Sometimes they come when we receive a surprise gift from someone close to us. A word spoken to us when we need encouragement. A song on the radio or a special music song sung at church. The kindness of someone we barely know. The list goes on forever, if we take the time to think about it.


God's Over Frustration and Discouragement

Having been frustrated about some health issues this summer and into the fall, I have only done minimal writing. Also having received answers from the medical tests I underwent late this summer. Discovering my husband’s medical problems had worsened during the summer and watching him undergo two medical procedures has discouraged me more than I realized.
But the amazing thing about all of this is GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL. He is still watching out for us. Our son started a new job last month. He is earning a bit more per hour and it’s one fourth the distance from home. I call that a win-win situation. But this is all from God.
A circumstance at work has caused me to be more mindful of who God is and who follows Him. I hope to share this revelation with a co-worker who has been on vacation this past week.
I have been discouraged and frustrated because I am human. God taught me today as I sat in church and heard a beautiful Christian lady sing a song I have appreciated when I hear it on the radio.
In the past two weeks, we have had church members go to be with God. Last week, it was a woman who was in a nursing home. Yesterday, it was a gentleman who had a massive stroke. He and his wife were at the early service last Sunday. I remember him pitching in and painting backdrops for the Christmas play I wrote and presented four years ago. I was touched by his eagerness to help us. But, I must say, I don’t remember thanking him properly.
I choose a devotional to use each year. For 2007, I chose “My Utmost For HIS Highest.” I am a few days behind in my reading. But I intend to catch up very soon. I will decide what devotional author to read for 2008 in the next few weeks.
In the past, I have tried to choose a focus scripture for the new year. I need to choose one for 2008.
I am ashamed to say this, my prayer life has suffered lately. But, with God’s help, I can remedy that also.


How Many Times?

How many times have children of God felt that their backs were against the wall?Circumstances seem to bring us down. Everything becomes an effort; we sometimes don’t know ‘why’. How many times have children of God wanted to give in to the circumstances? How many times have children of God come close to giving in to bad things? How many times has a fellow believer come up alongside, just listening to the hurting brother or sister? This is a sign of Christian love How many times has a fellow believer interceded before God on behalf of a brother or sister with a need? This is standing in the gap for one another. How many times has the Bible spoken God’s truth to a hurting heart? This is God speaking through His Word. How many times has God acted in our behalf and brought us through? We serve a God of love and miracles. How many times? How many times? We will know only at the time that we are ushered into heaven’s gates and into our Lord’s presence.
Prayer: Dear Father, Thank You for being with me during those times of doubt and despair. Thank You for rescuing me and bringing me through those times. Thank You for your Word. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN


CONSIDER JESUS’ YOKE

Matthew 11:25-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,And I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you and learn from me,For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yolk is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 28-30 NIV) Jesus invited those with their backs against the wall to come to him. He promised rest; he also promised to go alongside them, lifting the weight of their burdens. In present day society we hear a lot of stress and burn out and wonder why. The answer seems to be that we carry the full weight of our problems and concerns. Jesus tells his followers, then and now, that he will give our souls rest. He will shoulder our burdens as he walks with us. We have to surrender to His care in order to experience the effect of His presence and the lightness of His yoke. When we accept His invitation, we are freed from our burdens and we also learn from Him. Prayer: Dear God, I give You my burden and ask you to carry it for me. I ask you to walk along side me and guide me through this circumstance of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen


Power

A sermon I heard today has set me thinking. Where is our power coming from? As Americans who enjoy fairly high incomes when compared to the rest of the world does our power come from the money we possess? As people living in the cyber-space age, is our power measured in giga-bytes? Does our power come from who talks the loudest or the fastest? Should we gravitate to the smoothest public speaker just because he tells us what we want to hear?
In response to the questions, our power comes from God alone. He rules with grace and justice. God doesn’t care if you are rich or poor. He doesn’t dwell on how connected we are-either socially or technologically. He listens to the ones who honor and obey Him. We should not allow control to go to those who tell us what we want to hear .
We should be listening for God to speak to us . We should lean on Him to give us the power He wants us to have.



2 Corinthians 5:17


Never before have I
Entertained this idea,
When I belong to God,
I am quite different,
No longer the same.
Christ guiding me per
His Will, every day.
Reaching and forming me
Into His dear image.
Sweetly holding my hand‘
Til I can be with Him.
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Following My King

Our Conversations with God

From time to time, we all face issues where we have talks with God. Sometimes these are about our “blowing it” or about our disappointment with how something worked out for us. I am talking about coming face to face with God, humbling ourselves and vowing not to repeat the mistake or bad habit again. Or the conversations happen because we are afraid of what lies ahead.
An online friend wrote of having long conversations with God as she drove to some garage sales. I have had similar times when I have done something very stupid in my life. A close friend has talked with God at length about her possible upcoming surgery.
The good thing is: No matter what the reason, the time, the circumstance. God welcomes us and listens to us. For this I am eternally grateful.


In God’s Time, In God’s Will

When things keep us feeling down and we see no end in sight, we need to remember God is in control. Ephesians 1:11 tells us God acts, “in His time” and “in His will.” Paul wrote this letter to the believers at Ephesus from a prison cell.
Whatever our trial, God is with us. Six state in the midwest United States have experience tornadoes, and floods. One state had the majority of it’s counties affected by flooding. Another had most of its southern section flooded out. One city’s hospital has been closed because of intense flooding.
We have family friends living in one of these flooded out areas. They citizen’s worked together, using a township conservation club as a hub. They planned on keeping the club open 24/7 for as long as needed. One of the women wrote us. “We were worried about the extra expense of keeping things turned on, but we knew we had to do it.”
This humbled me. These people prayed for God to help them through this time. I believe He honored their integrity and their efforts. He does that for His children.
I am aware of two married couples who are doing what they can to keep one of each at home despite health issues . A woman is caring for her husband who has Alzheimer’s despite her own heart problems. A man tends his wife who has a bad heart and experiences mini-strokes despite his own heart problems. God is with them.
Some trials seem to stay with us. Some seem to be fleeting. Whatever the case, God knows our needs and will help us through them as he sees fit.

Grace

We all have heard about grace. It is one of the dearest terms of Christendom. But what is it, actually? As I see it, grace is likened to a precious stone having many facets.
Back in the early 1970’s I asked my then-pastor’s wife what was meant by grace. Her answer was interesting. She used an acrostic to explain it: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I have since reasoned that all we have from God has been granted to us only because Jesus Christ went to the cross in our place.
One facet of grace is the idea of love of which we are unworthy. The fact that God loves us in spite of who we are or what we have done amazes me. The idea He loves the hardened criminal as much as He loves the sanctified soul sitting in the pew each Sunday and Wednesday night blows my mind. But God does love us equally.
Can we see grace in today’s society? Yes, we can but we have to use discernment in order to recognize it. We extend grace to another person when we forgive them for hurting us. We also practice grace-giving when we do a good deed for a friend.
How can we describe grace? Hymn writers have used words like amazing, and wonderful, and marvelous. Where would we be without God’s grace? We all would be lost and headed for the lake of fire.



Waiting and Trusting

Waiting, no one really likes to do it. But we spend a good quantity of our life waiting for something. As children, we waited for Christmas, for our birthdays, for summer vacation. As teens we waited for that special guy to ask us for a date. As young adults we spent precious time wondering if he would propose marriage.
When we were expecting our child or children, we had to wait for the better part of nine months before we could hold that little bundle of joy in our arms. Then it was waiting for the teething to be over. Then it was a while before our little ones could walk by themselves. But we waited for these moments.
As we go through our spiritual lives, we have times of uncertainty, times of fear, times of danger. We are supposed to trust God for the outcomes. We are not to worry about these things, we are to trust.
Sometimes we think it impossible to wait and trust. But Isaiah 40:31 reminds us all, “Those who hope in(wait for) the LORD will renew their strength. The will soar like eagles they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.


Prayer IS Important

The title of this entry was emphasized to me while my husband and I were on vacation recently. Through an oversight, I did a very stupid thing which could have had caused me/us major problems for a very long time. I discovered my error a full day after the incident. We really didn’t know what to do. We prayed independent of each other and experienced a peace about the situation.
My prayer consisted of me telling God it was my fault, all my fault. I couldn’t cast blame on anyone else. I HAD MADE THE MISTAKE. I could only hope the person who discovered my personal gaffe was honest. If that person was, I asked God to bless him or her. In case that person was less than honest, I told God I would turn him or her over to Him.
My husband was praying for guidance through the possible resultant circumstances I had possibly caused. He prayed that God, through the Holy Spirit, would send us to the person who could help us.
Answers:
1.) The person who discovered my error was employed by the business we had patronized. SHE WAS HONEST.
2.) The morning after our prayer vigil, a policewoman crossed our path and my husband decided to approach this officer with our problem. She took the time to make some phone calls to see what I needed to present in order to get the credentials I might need while we were on our vacation.
3.) At no time after we prayed did I feel unnerved about the possible outcome that could have resulted from this incredily stupid thing I did.
Prayer works, Prayer is Important, Prayer works, Prayer is important, YES, IT IS.Prayer works, YES IT DOES.




When God Answers Our Prayers

Have you ever prayed for an answer to a need and received an answer that gave you pause. I was sitting in church recently and saw at least three answers to my prayers. Last week I heard of a ministry project that will happen in a few months. This project answers a request made to God two years ago. This more recent answer could be the answer to other needs in our town. God is at work in the hearts of his people.
I was in attendance at a revival meeting on Saturday evening, the last of a three-night revival. There were stories of teens being saved on the other two nights. The preacher on Saturday night, the son of a friend of ours, didn’t mince any words about the presence of Hell and that no one had to go there. He spoke of Jesus as the Savior and Lord of his life. He also told of where he was before he found Jesus. I know his mother prayed for a long time for this son to find his way to Jesus.
God answers prayer in His time. God answers prayer according to His plan. Our job is to pray and petition. His job is to perform miracles, heal, guide and direct.
I will keep praying for those on my prayer list and for the needs of those I meet. in the future when I see answers unfold before me, it will cause me to pause and give praise.


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Trusting God

As believers, we have to rely on God and His leading for our lives. Sometimes this seems difficult. But we benefit when we relax and let Him pour His love and comfort over us. Life is full of surprises and yet, God can take those difficult times, that difficult news and mould it to how He wants us to experience these events.
There are times, we seek answers from God, thinking that response will come through either path “A” or path “B”. But God surprises us and uses another way to resolve our problem. These surprise answers to prayer are what makes us sit back in amazement.
We have to remember God is in control of everything. We have to wait to see what He has in store for us. The neat thing about all this is we become more comfortable with trusting God each time we see His answer. Trusting grows easier as we learn to do it.


Palm Sunday Thoughts

What were the people thinking as Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day? Were they thinking of His true reason for his journey? Did they know that He would object to the money changers in His temple? How did they feel when the leaders turned on Him? Did anyone think to stand up to the naysayers?
It seems the people were thinking, “What can He do for me?” They didn’t know the true reason for his journey. They were only thinking about their ‘here and now’. The people, save a handful, seemed to get caught up in the later action of the week. It seems no one of the everyday people thought about standing up to the ‘powers-that- be’.
Of course, we who believe know the rest of the story. We know this was a part of God’s plan. Our Lord had to go through all this in order to become sin for us. He took upon Himself every vile and dirty sin of the world. He took on every hurtful comment we have made. He took on every sin of omission we have and will commit.

God’s In Control!

We believers say this all the time. But when we actually see Him working in our daily lives, we have to stand back and exclaim it. Yesterday evening, our church had a soup supper/fundraiser. I had not planned to work at it or even attend. (Health reasons come into play here.) About the time the event started, one of my closest friends called me. She asked me if I was going to it. She had heard from the person in charge that some of the workers had gotten sick. We decided to go. Instead of serving soup as we intended. We washed the dishes trays and the pots and roasters. But that was where the person in charge needed the help.
I hadn’t been able to be at church due to my husband’s injury and the cold weather and ice. I hadn’t seen some of these people in about six weeks. But they all knew most of what was going on with my absence. They loved me. That was what I needed. God knew that. He sent my friend to the phone to get my attention and get me out of my emotional funk.



Growing in the Spirit

I find myself growing closer to the Lord. I participate in a prayer fellowship at our church. We were praying a forty day guide for revival. I found myself waking up and reaching for the book where I keep the sheet before being fully awake. At day number 32, I went online and found another 40 day guide for an election year, which this happens to be one.
While I feel closer to God, I am not without some issues in my life. I have to trust God for the outcome for each of these issues. He has lead me this far and I know He won’t leave me now.
Trusting God is not always easy. He can allow conditions to enter our lives that are painful, difficult and distasteful. But He always teaches us through these harsh events. Look at Job, God allowed Satan to do with Job what he could. God did this to teach Job somethings.





Fear, Courage: God Is With Us

scpeanutgallery.com  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...