Sunday, June 30, 2013

Looking for Refuge?

A few days ago a friend posted that it was a family anniversary. Just one year ago they were given the news that their daughter had lymphoma. They were broken hearted as their world literally stood still.  Yet one year later, they are rejoicing that the diagnosis, treatment and cure is behind them. Their daughter is healed and resuming her life –with her precious little girl and wonderful husband. She said in her post, “My life is forever changed and cherish the blessings we found along the way.” 

She’s not the only person who has been through trauma. Some of you are going through it even now. We have friends who have lost their lives in the battle. We have acquaintances who’ve struggled and hoped and prayed. Some were healed here, some were healed in heaven. But God gets all the glory. 

We don’t know what we’re really made of until life comes apart at the seams. We think that we are going to drown. We can’t breathe. We can’t talk or move. Our shoelaces are untied. Our slip is showing. Our heart is poured out everywhere. Our guts are writhing and we just want to run, but where? We want to quit breathing forever, but we can’t. We’re undone.  We are absolutely certain we won’t make it.

But God comes in. He steps into the situation, into our shoes and does the remarkable. He helps us. He stitches us back together with His truth. He resuscitates us with His presence. He speaks to our dry bones so they move again. He ties up our shoelaces, readjusts our demeanor and holds us tight – oh so tight!

Oh beloved, do you hear that? That’s God speaking! He’s saying to you this morning, listen beloved. I AM going before you into this situation and I AM going to walk you through it and back out again. Hear that? It is My Word comforting your fearful heart. Feel that? It’s My arm holding you up. It’s My hand guiding you down this narrow path of darkness and dread. See that? It’s My light shining in your presence so you can walk without stumbling, dance without music and leap without knowing what is ahead. I AM that I AM and because of that, you can trust Me no matter what you are going through. In the disappointment, in the sickness, in the bad news, in the valley of the shadow of death.  I will make your hard times, hard places and hard reports into a testimony of My love, My care and My faithfulness – no matter what.

God loves you, so what have you to fear, what have you to dread? God is for you, so let Him sew you up, pick you up and stand you up. Life is sure to have its ups and downs – way down at times. But with God, we can make it because regardless of what’s at the end of the tunnel, God is with us and that’s all that really matters anyway!

Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Psalm 112:7 They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Psalm 23:4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!

Psalm 57:1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to You for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings until the danger passes by.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

God Doesn't Just Patch Things Up!

“Can’t we just glue it?” is a question I’ve asked Danny often! I hate it when something special breaks. Recently I broke one of my favorite coffee cups. The handle broke right off! It’s special because one of my daughters gave it to me. I could not bear to throw it away, so my precious husband glued it back together for me. I plan to put a small bouquet of silk flowers in it. The word across the face of the cup is PEACE.  That cup reminded me of God’s peace that guards both my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

Even though the cup is glued back together, the cracks still show. Glue does a wondrous job, but it won’t make the cracks go away. The evidence of an object being broken in the past remains, as delicate as human touch may be.

Our lives are as fragile as my coffee cup. We break easily. We hurt and we struggle and we get knocked off the table of happiness. We weep and hurt because of our brokenness. Then we try to find a way to patch ourselves up and get it all back together.  Although we may look put back together, if someone gets close enough the cracks remain. The chips are still there. The exterior, looking so put together and perfect is in fact still broken. I can’t really use my coffee cup for what it was once intended for because it’s broken. We can’t really be used for what God intended for us if we remain broken.

Patch work won’t do for a yielded vessel.  We have to be more than patched back together. We have to be made new! We have to let God come in and use His magnificent glue of the Word to make us right again. In our hearts we want to be used again – we don’t want to sit on a shelf and watch the rest of the world go its own way. But sometimes fear comes in and whispers to us “you can’t be used anymore”, “you were damaged too much”, “look at you- you’re a mess”, “this is just the way you are now”. The hurts, the fear, the anguish, the damage is done and if we hold onto all that nothing will make us right and we’ll be destined to hold flowers instead of being poured out for the Kingdom.

Are you broken this morning? Were you used of the Lord but now you feel you’re damaged beyond repair? Did someone come in a break your heart, break an oath, break your trust? Maybe you had a call on your life, but people hurt you and now you’re not ever going to let anyone hurt you again.  You thought you were content to be something you were never meant to be, but you still long to be used of God. If only you could piece things back together and quit feeling so fractured.

Oh beloved, there is hope! God will do what no one can do, not even yourself! He will apply His love to soothe your broken places! He will not just patch you, He will renew you! He will make ALL THINGS new! His promises are true and His abilities are beyond your wildest imagination! Let Him help you today! Let Him remold you into what you were always meant to be – a living, poured out vessel in His service!  Nothing will make you as happy as being where God wants you. Nothing will make you stronger than letting the Holy Spirit do what you can’t. Nothing will make you depend on God more than finding you can’t depend on anyone else to fix you - to fix what’s broken in your heart, your mind or your spirit.

The Holy Spirit is standing at the door of your heart! He wants to pour in His Truth to restore your soul this very day because He loves you and He’s for you and that’s what holds you together no matter what happens!

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 94:17-19 Unless the LORD had helped me, I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave. I cried out, “I am slipping!” but Your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Are You Straining at the Fence?

One of my mother’s favorite authors is Erma Bombeck. She was hilarious! She was a great laugher, a lot like Barbara Johnson.  One of Erma’s books was “The Grass is Always Greener ---Over the Septic Tank!”

I can see in my mind the horses and cattle who strain against the barbed wire fences to get that blade of grass that looks so enticing when what they’re standing knee deep in is the same grass! Same health benefits, same minerals and vitamins. In fact the grass closest to the road may have stuff you can’t see with the naked eye – road film, grim, dirt, herbicides.

I am often reminded that I have to be careful. If I spend too much time “pinning” ideas and plans I might find myself wishing for greener pastures so to speak.  It’s real easy to go from looking at ideas to obsessing because you can’t do everything you see with your eyes.  We taste a little idea and before you know it we find ourselves hungering for that which we don’t need and that which might even harm us.

Have you been looking at the other side of the fence? Are you thinking the grass “over there” is greener?  Are you longing for something different, better, more? You may be thinking you want what someone else has and you’re straining to get where they are, but it might not be where God wants you. Maybe you’ve already gone over the fence and you realize now it’s just a septic tank – full of junk you never really wanted. You think it’s too late to go back, return or regain what you realize you have lost. You feasted your eyes on things the world tells you is important and now you feel hopeless, helpless and disappointed.

Oh beloved, it’s not too late! Run to the Lord this morning and begin feasting on His perfect will, His perfect ways and His perfect Word! Every lavish, lush Scripture is for you to take in completely, overfilling and overflowing! You can never feed too long or too much on His Word! As you give yourself back to His ways, God’s will is always your best pasture – the very best place to dwell in safety. He will begin to show you new and fresh insights. He will give you all that you can handle and oh so much more!  The greener pastures are in fact the very one you stand in with the Lord!  

Rejoice that God has provided the lushest everlasting feast for you because He loves you and He’s for you and that will keep you fed spiritually and blessed in every way all the days of your life!

Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. (NAS)

Nehemiah 9:20 You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst. (NAS)

Isaiah 49:9 I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be My sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.

Psalm 119:10-11 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.

Psalm 23:2 He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams.

Job 23:12 I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. (Amplified)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Let God Empty You of Needless Things

I bought a bigger purse so I’d have room for everything. Trouble is everything I need goes to the bottom of the huge purse! I finally got tired of digging through everything to find one small item I needed. One day I just emptied the entire contents of my purse onto the bar in the kitchen. To my amazement there was tons of stuff that came out of my purse! Receipts, deposit slips, notes, along with a billfold, a comb, a hairbrush, keys, fingernail clipper and more.  It was a mountain of stuff – no wonder my shoulder was hurting!

It was only when I completely emptied my purse that I could find what I was looking for. I decided that there was no need to put all that back in my purse and carry it around, so I left it out. Now that my purse is less full of contents, I find it much easier to find what I really need. I’m concerned though that it won’t be long until it’s all filled up again with things I just jam in there because I’m in too big a hurry or don’t have time to file it or put it away.

Life is a lot like a purse. There are many compartments and lots of room. We tend to fill our lives up with stuff and stuff our lives with things. Add another trip to the store, another ballgame to play, a date with friends, a movie, a new set of golf clubs, a new relationship, a new church, a bigger vacation.  We get so full of stuff we can’t find what we really need. We’re too busy shuffling through the mountain of activity to even enjoy the most important things in life.

It’s only when we empty ourselves of the excess that we can see the important things, what we’re really searching for clearly.  When it’s all emptied out, even though the process can be unnerving and hurtful, we find that what we really need is already there for us. We just have to be careful that when we get rid of the junk we don’t slip back into refilling our lives and losing sight of God’s best again.

Are you digging in the bag of life, searching for precious things you thought were lost? Have you been emptied out and left alone? Do you feel that there’s no hope for you and that without all the stuff you had you won’t be complete? Are you concerned that if God asks for things from you, you might be worthless, useless or less than you want to be?

Oh beloved, run to God’s Word this morning and see just how complete you are in Christ! See the magnificent jewels of His truths that are hidden beneath the junk. Pull out faith and put it on! Take out peace and let it cover you completely! Don’t fill up on junk, for it’s too heavy a burden to carry. Rather, let God empty you of needless things so that you can be filled with needful gifts and blessings from His rich storehouse. God says I AM your best choice, I AM your greatest asset, I AM your most precious item and your beloved keepsake. Let Me replace the emptiness you feel with the fullness of Me.

God loves you and He’s for you and that’s more than enough to keep you full of love joy and peace the rest of your days!

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

Psalm 119:37 Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through Your word.

Psalm 119:92-93 If Your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. I will never forget Your commandments, for by them You give me life.

Genesis 22:14 Abraham named the place Jehovah – Jireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Luke 10:41-42 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are You on a Tightrope Walk of Faith?

I ran over to my daughters’ house Sunday night to watch the tightrope walk of Nik Wallenda across the Grand Canyon. For a person who is afraid of heights I found it quite harrowing to watch. I’ve also been to the Grand Canyon and what you see on tv pales in comparison to what you see in real life: so much more magnificent, deep and windy than you can imagine.

The Flying Wallendas began as a circus act of daredevil stunt performers, most known for performing high wire acts without a safety net for nearly a century. Most of us baby boomers watched them often on television. Not all of the Wallenda family performers survived their “talent”. Several of them fell to their deaths while executing various walks. Still, you just have to admire people who appear to do death defying acts.

As the most recent family member to attempt a walk across the Grand Canyon, this trip was a little different. There was a preacher praying with the family before he began his walk. Then, all during the walk across Nik prayed and talked with the Lord and spoke to the wind and the movement in the high wire. Obviously his faith was beyond his natural talent. It would have to be. Because even the best of daredevils can’t stop a fall once it’s begun. Mere talent never got anyone anywhere. But talent plus faith or even faith without talent – that’s something God can work with and we can survive with.

Most of us have experienced some type of tightrope adventure. We start out on level ground, walking surefooted and solid. Then something comes along and we find ourselves holding on for our lives. We go from sure ground to nothing beneath us! It’s harrowing. We experience sickness and don’t know if we’ll make it. We experience rejection and wonder what we’ve done. We experience sorrow, fear, surprises, and all the while we know the next gust of trouble will thoroughly blow us away in the tempest. We don’t know how to hold on, move on or remain standing. We might begin to think the trouble is so severe that letting go would be the answer.

Oh beloved, you may be in the tightrope walk of your life! You may have been thrown into it by circumstances you couldn’t control. But it’s no surprise to the Lord and it’s not meant to blow you away! It’s really a walk of faith when you put yourself in God’s hands. You are not out there alone, you are not left without a safety net and you are not going to fall! God speaks to your heart this morning and says Have Courage! I AM with you! Have Faith! I AM on your side! Have peace! I will go before you! Have rest! I AM the everlasting hands underneath your entire life! Walk through it with Me, walk on with Me, grow bolder, rest in faith, grow in grace and knowledge, while you overcome with Me!

God loves you and He’s for you and that, beloved, is all the safety net you will ever need!

Job 11:18 Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.

Psalm 11:1 I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

Psalm 59:16 But as for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.

Proverbs 29:25 Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.

Psalm 91:2 This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Your Strength is From God Himself!

Two of our grandsons spent the night with us last night. We rented Jack the Giant Slayer.  It was pretty good but the best party of the movie was at the very end. The special affects were outstanding, the actors were good and the plot was wondrous. But that ending…

There were gruesome fights, a captured princess and fights for freedom. As the giants in the land were about to take over the entire kingdom, killing all the people who lived there, including the people’s king – they suddenly stopped in their tracks. Beginning with the leader, one by one they all knelt and bowed. Elmont, the king’s elite guard leader, looked incredulously at the sight of those giants in such a position.

He spoke out loud and everyone heard him, including the King, “There’s something behind me isn’t there?” As the soldiers and the King turned around, Jack came up with the princess. He was holding the crown of an ancient king Erik, who had reportedly defeated the giants one time before. He put the crown on his head and the fight was over. Not one of the giants was able to come against the crown.

Let’s face it. We all have battles in our lives. Some of them are quite gruesome. There are battles we don’t want, but find ourselves in anyway. There are battles of the heart, the mind and the spirit. We may love with abandon, only to find ourselves struggling to keep love fresh and real. We give ourselves fully to friends and family but there are times when even the closest of kin will turn and walk. We battle heartaches, loneliness, sorrow, despair. We come up against fearsome foes – fear, anger, rejection, doubt, indifference and more.  We may start out strong, but find ourselves holding on for our life as we see that we are no longer winning but actually up against things we can never overcome…on our own.

But just like the final battle in the movie, we have something behind us! We have Someone Who will come in like a flood and wipe our enemies from the land before us! Our King of Kings promises so many vast and wonderful things for us so that we can be more than conquerors and absolutely victorious in any battle we face! If He weren’t behind us, we’d lose for sure – but He is! And so because He is behind us, we can face everything that comes our way knowing through Our God we win!

God’s battle cry is full of love so that when we feel unloved and unlovely we can rejoice in the victory of His never ending love! God’s battle cry is full of hope – the hope that never disappoints, never loses and always overcomes! God’s battle cry is full of victory, for it is in our weakest moments that He is the Strongest in us and through us!

Oh beloved, are you barely holding on this morning! Don’t despair, but rather declare!  Declare the works of the Lord, speak out the Word of the Lord and gather up the Truth of God’s Word as your sword and shield! You may have thought you were all alone facing your giants, but behind you is God and He promises to rises up on your behalf and overcome everything because He loves you and He’s for you and that’s where the true Victory is!

Learn His Word completely, embrace His Word as your banner in the battlefields of life and watch as through God you will be valiant and find yourself in a win win situation always!

Jeremiah 15:20 They will fight against you like an attacking army, but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze. They will not conquer you, for I am with you to protect and rescue you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Psalm 59:17 O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.

Psalm 34:7 For the angel of the LORD is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear Him.

Psalm 139:5 You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.

Exodus 14:4 The LORD Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

You're Adoption is a Miracle!

Going to yard sales is something I don’t often get to do anymore. There just isn’t enough time to spend going from sale to sale. However, the other morning I had a few minutes to myself and went by one such sale on my way back from the grocery store.

I pulled into the parking lot of the law office and saw to my delight it was being given by one of my dear friend’s daughters! We laughed and visited for a moment and I asked about a couple of prices and left. It was a miracle I was empty handed, but really I have enough stuff for a couple of my own yard sales!

As I pulled away from the parking lot I thought to myself how much that young woman looked like her mother.  That’s pretty amazing since this oldest daughter is adopted! No one would ever know she was not their natural born child. In looks and personality she’s as pretty and as sweet as her mother.  She also looks incredibly like her little sister, who was not adopted but born by surprise! J

I’m sure if truth be told, everyone wants a child who has similar features as themselves – blonde hair, blue eyes or brown hair and brown eyes. Maybe adoption agencies still try to make matches like they did in the 50’s and earlier. At any rate, the marvelous thing about adoption is family.  Everyone wants to be in a family – somewhere they can call home and be welcome no matter what.

When it comes to adoption into the Family of God, the Lord does a miraculous thing! He chooses people who are absolutely nothing like Him! They’re complete strangers holding none of God’s features before they are adopted. But once the adoption is final God changes everything.  Children of the Lord begin acting, walking and talking like their Heavenly Father. Eventually, one day, according to Scripture, they will even look like Him!

Maybe you’ve not had the best of family issues. Not everyone grows up being loved and cared for.  You might have been told that someone wished you were never born, were an accident or a mistake. Sometimes, for one reason or another people can even begin to feel like an orphan.  You may even have lived alone and taken care of yourself for many years. Someone may have told you that you weren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc.  You may have looked for love and acceptance in other places but ended up still feeling such incredible lack in your life. Loneliness can make us reach for things we don’t even want, but when God speaks to our hearts and calls us to His Family, we are given everything we need to feel welcome and accepted into our new life.

Everything changes when God adopts us! Suddenly we are no longer strangers, but members. He begins to teach us about His ways and His ideals and we begin to walk in His precepts. What we couldn’t hope to find on our own is found in Christ! Perfect acceptance and total love! What we can’t hope to achieve on our own merit, God has made a way for us! A heavenly home forever! God will not kick us out, retract the adoption or wish we were never born.

Oh beloved, rest in your Heavenly Father’s Arms this morning! Before the day gives way to other things. Listen just a moment and let God read your adoption papers to you again! Every Word is for you, every promise is about you and every plan includes you! You are not a mistake, but a miracle! You are not an accident but formed for a purpose! You were wanted before the foundation of the world, regardless of your natural birth or life circumstances.  Reject that which you hear that doesn’t match up with your Abba Father’s words –for His Words to you are truth and life and peace!

God loves you enough to make a way for you to be adopted into His family and He’s for you so much that the papers have been sealed with the Blood of the Lamb forever! What a family! What a Lord!

John 1:12 But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.

Romans 8:15-16 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.”  For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Psalm 68:5-6  Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy.  God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy...

I John 3:2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.

Ephesians 1:5 God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Is Your Walk Wearing Thin?

I have a pair of tennis shoes I really love. They have always been very comfortable. Problem is they are starting to wear thin. I didn’t realize how thin they were until I was walking down my driveway to the mailbox. Between the drive and the street there are rocks. As soon as I stepped on those rocks it felt as though I had no shoes on at all! It hurt! And it was hard to walk! I found myself gingerly trying to avoid some of the bigger jagged rocks and feeling as though I might stumble or fall.

When shoes begin to wear out, their foundation – the sole – gets thin. Without a good solid foundation to walk on, you feel every little irritation and even thorns may shoot through to your tender feet. If not taken care of you can become injured and unable to walk. Ask a hiker or a biker – the shoes you have on make all the difference when you’re sidestepping boulders or avoiding road hazards.

Just like our natural bodies need a good set of shoes to walk without danger, our spiritual life must have a great foundation as well. Without the proper basis for our faith, we just might walk in anything, or find ourselves completely barefoot. There’s no way for us to be secure without our lives having strong protection.

There are many salespeople out in the world who will sell you a poorly made pair of shoes without any qualms.  There are many in the world who will sell you a poor imitation gospel as well.  For whatever reason, they’ve gotten hold of something that was never intended to fit you and most certainly will not protect you. It may make you feel good, it may look fashionable, it may be the right style, color and something everyone else has. But when the test of walking out your faith comes – it will not hold up.

Often we want to go around in faith sandals. We don’t want to do anything but stroll with God and tiptoe in the tulips of life. Then we wonder why things feel so bad. We wonder why we’re falling or stumbling or hurting in our faith walk. It may be time to check your shoes and make sure you have the right pair for the life God has asked you to walk.

Oh beloved, do you have your foundation secure? Are you walking out your faith, able to leap troubles, climb trials, overcome obstacles and face all your responsibilities? Rejoice that you are dressed by the best – the Lord Himself! He has provided exactly what you need for life and godliness so that you can travel wherever He sends you and endure. Yes, He will let you walk some easier roads, but this life of faith is full of pitfalls and jagged rocks. Thank Him today that you are His beloved and that because you are His beloved, He gave the ultimate price to give you a real faith that you can walk out all the days of your life! Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and have a wonderful walk with Him forever!

God loves you and He’s for you and that’s why you can trust His fit!

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Habakkuk 3:19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! (AMP)

Isaiah 33:6 In that day He will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

Ephesians 6:15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.

Proverbs 10:25 When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It All Belongs to Him!

I went in for just a moment the other morning to say hello to my across the street grandkids before I headed to work. We visited for a moment but time flew by and I had to head for my car. This meant I needed my phone, which has become the grandkids’ personal play toy. Caleb was playing a game and not a bit interested in giving up the phone but I had to go! He continued to say “No, I don’t want to” quietly without making eye contact, but time was racing!

As his mother took it from his hands, he got angry! He let out a screaming growl of disapproval towards his mother. It was loud! It was not his will to hand over the phone. It was not his intention to have it pried from his fingers. And he let it be known. This otherwise quiet docile sweet faced angel changed in an instant!

Regardless of what he wanted the phone had to go with me. And I had to leave. His anger spread to a bit of chaos between brothers and sister. His frustration brought a room full of activity as everybody felt his anger and saw his response.

We adults laugh about such behavior, but we often mirror it. Our lives are just like we want them. Everything is in order, all our ducks are in a row and it’s all neat and tidy. We have our needs and most of our wants. We have our loved ones, our fun and our way. We’re playing our games and enjoying our life. We’re happy, kind and embraceable.

But let one thing ripple out of our order and we’re fit to be tied. We want to scream from the top of our lungs. We clench our teeth, stomp our feet and claim our rights. We become like children demanding things that don’t belong to us anyway. We forget that everything we have – everything – is from the generous hand of Almighty God. And since all we have is from Him everything must belong to Him not us.

Are you reeling from the loss of something most dear to your heart? Were you holding on very tightly and being very careful to keep close ties only to find it taken from your hand? Have you been having a tantrum with God? Have you been blaming Him, arguing with Him or screaming to high heaven about all you can’t hang onto?

Oh beloved, it’s time to quit rehearsing your loss, and start rejoicing in all that you have that cannot be taken from you! Every day is precious, every moment is a gift, and every sunrise is a new start. It’s time to stop feeling like a loser and start rehearsing the truth about your situation! You are a child of God! You are a blessed believer! You are a blood bought worshiper! Your Father has your very best interests in mind so that if He requires you to give up something, let Him have His way. Don’t make Him pry it from your fingers as though you are the owner! For you will find that it is only in the giving of everything to Him, including your very existence, that you can find true peace and happiness. Thank God for life, thank God for heaven, thank God for His Word and thank Him that He listens and answers and provides all we have need of forever and always.

God loves you, precious child, and He’s for you beloved believer, and that’s worth giving it all to Him!

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.

Deuteronomy 10:14 Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the LORD your God.

Nehemiah 9:6 You alone are the LORD. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship You.

Colossians 3:2-4 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Psalm 25:1 O LORD, I give my life to You.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

God is Faithful and That's the Truth

I bought a movie for my hubby for Father’s Day. Since he loves sci-fi I thought I’d get him a new one with a cast of great actors. About 8:30 last night we settled in to watch it. Not far into the show, however, I discovered that it just wasn’t something I wanted to watch.

The lead actor has never been in a movie I didn’t like. So I was well prepared to enjoy even the science-fiction version of something he does. But this was such an incredible stretch from his other movies. I found myself very disappointed in the actor and the movie.  I forgot that he is just an actor. He’s in it mostly for the money. The movies that actors are in don’t often mean anything to them personally. They don’t invest their hopes and dreams in the character they portray; they just learn the lines, act their part and collect the money.

We believers are not acting a part. We can’t just say the words, speak the sonnets, pray the prayers and collect the gifts God gives. We must throw ourselves into something we believe in. We must make sure that what we portray shows the Father heart of God! It won’t matter how good we “act” if our heart’s not in it. We have to decide at some point if we’re going to live for the Lord, even if it costs us everything.

Maybe you have been disillusioned by someone you thought really meant what they said. You believed them and you believed in them. They followed the lines, did a great job and yet you found out their heart wasn’t really in it. You were scorned by someone you thought was real only to find out they were merely an actor, imposter, a pretender. You thought you were loved, you thought you were cared about, you thought it was more than a whim. You’re hurting and you feel so betrayed. You trusted, you followed, you agreed and you cheered them on. Now you’re left alone, left out and feel like someone’s old discards.

In the big screen of life there is One who will never let you down, always live up to His standards, and give completely of Himself to help you believe.  He stoops to help you, pick you up and set you upright. He is the Truth in print, screen and life. He is pure, He is love, He is God!

Oh beloved, run to the Lord this morning and let Him show you the Truth about Himself and about you! He will always lead you into His Truth and you will never be disappointed by a single word or action from Him! He is so incredibly committed to portraying Truth because He is Truth! He is completely committed to portraying Love because He is Love!  He is your way to faith, fellowship and a bright and promising future. If you will trust Him first and foremost, listen to His Words and follow His lead, you won’t have to worry about pretenders, imposters or actors.

Be real with God this morning and let Him show you the genuine favor, blessings and care He has for those who love Him. You’ll never be disappointed for His love is the real thing!

Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (NAS)
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (NAS)
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?
2 Corinthians 1:20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. (NAS)
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.
Psalm 18:30 As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is Your Heart Drought Stricken? There's Hope!

Drought is one of the most costly natural disasters affecting our country. Although it’s gotten pretty hot by now, it’s nothing compared to the disastrous weather we were having a year ago. In June much of our state was in severe to extreme drought with all of the state in some form of drought. Not only was it dry, but most weather stations in our state were reporting the highest number of 100°F days for the month of June ever recorded.

It was hot, it was dry and it was miserable. The gardens dried up, the row crops suffered and hay was being brought from across the country at incredible prices. I can remember driving on the interstate and noticing that the trucks were carrying blackened and old hay. Everyone was desperate. Ranchers who had been weathering extended droughts for the last couple of years were now selling their prime beef cattle for butcher beef.  It was sad times across the nation’s mid-section.

When I look outside my window and see rain these days I don’t dare complain. The grass is green and we’ve stayed under 100 degrees just about everywhere around here. The mornings are misty and damp and still there’s a cool in the air. For all this I am most thankful.

Sometimes we experience different types of drought. Droughts of the heart, the spirit, the mind. It could be a cut back at work, a setback in health, or a fall back of friendship or fellowship. At first, we adjust – we cut back on our wants and concentrate on our needs. We quit wishing for more and start praying for enough. But as the hard times of sorrow or worry or fear extend, we find ourselves desperate for any source of water and for any cool place to lie down and rest.  

For the Christian, God is so merciful! He will take our withered lives, our barren lands and our broken hearts and restore them! He gives water in a dry and arid place and He brings a cooling peace to those who seek Him with their whole hearts. He is a restoration loving God! He is a redemption bringing Savior! Regardless of how hard things may be at the moment, we can look forward to our hearts, minds and spirits being renewed.  We may not know when it will happen, but God’s promise is that if we seek Him we will find Him. And where we find Him, we find rivers of living water for everything we need.

Oh beloved, is your heart crying from a drought?  Your soul may seem fine to the outward glance, but inwardly you are dying for lack of refreshing. You’ve gone from well to cistern to pool and found nothing worth having, nothing to quench the thirsting of your soul. Run to the Lord this morning! For God has promised you refreshment and renewal and blessings. He understands your situation, He sees the extreme conditions you’ve been living in and He is able to cause you to flourish in the midst of it all. You don’t have to wait until things get better to thrive, for God is your reason for living! He says to you this morning come away to Me and receive all you need for your heart, your spirit and your mind. I AM your fountain of living water and I will never turn you away.

Circumstances may bring drought, but life in Christ will always cause you to flourish for God loves you and He’s for you and that’s your true source of refreshing always!

John 4:14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.

Psalm 63:1 …O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 143:11 For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of Your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.

Psalm 107:8-9 Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.   For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Monday, June 17, 2013

God Understands You Even When It's Hard to Speak

We have a gps in our car. It’s voice activated. Sounds awesome in theory, but just try to speak a destination to it. You have to say “destination, address, city, state” quickly and clearly. Otherwise you may get a map to Tucumcari instead of Texarkana.

The gps has a hard time understanding my TexArk dialect. Try as I might, it just doesn’t understand me. Often I get frustrated and use my cell for directions because I can type them in. I have a destination I need to get to and all I need is for it to respond to the information I give it. Then together with its help I can get there! We can arrive at an understanding and then the trip gets made!

Everyone wants to be understood. Check the bookstores. Watch the talk shows. Listen to your friend, your mate, your child. In marriage it’s imperative that both partners understand one another. Without mutual understanding there’s not real communication. Without coming to agreement and knowing one another’s needs and hopes there’s no direction and no plan to follow. It all comes up garbled at best and frustrated at least and turning each other off and going to another device at worst. There’s no way to make it to where you want to go in life, whether it’s in a marriage, a life plan or a heart’s desire without being understood.

Are you having trouble being understood? Have you tried to express yourself over and over only to be shunned, ignored or rebuked? Have your feelings, hopes and dreams been devalued or misunderstood? Are you about ready to throw the gps out the window and try a new method? You may be thinking that if you could just find someone who could understand you better it might be worth the detour. It’s rough when you can’t be heard, aren’t listened to or tuned out completely isn’t it?

Oh beloved! There is One Who understands you completely! He is knows how hard your way has been, how serious your problems are and how much you want to have a clear path and a good trip through this life! He has made you to desire to know His way and walk in His precepts. Don’t look to the world for your direction! He is calling you this morning and He speaks loving direction into your life. His ways are so much better for you and will always take you exactly where you need to be as a child of the Most High God!

Trust the Lord and seek His direction, for He loves you and He’s for you and that will keep you on the right path forever!

Psalm 139:1-2 O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away

Jeremiah 24:7 I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. (NAS)

Proverbs 5:21 For the LORD sees clearly what man does, examining every path he takes.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Have You Experienced Life with Abba Father?

One of our daughters and her husband have taken a little vacation for a couple of days. We were texting back and forth the day she left. One of her messages was that she meant to have her daddy pray over them before they left. It reminded me of all the years he prayed over them at bedtime, before special events and every time they left the house. “Lord Jesus, watch over them…” He did it so often and so well that even as adults, they still want their father to pray over them.

It blesses my heart to know that prayer means something to them, but especially to know that their father helped teach them the value and importance of prayer.  It is such an honor to be asked to pray and especially when it’s your children.

If you have a wonderful father, please take time to call him or visit him today. It’s just plain good to honor a parent for their years of tireless giving and putting others first. It only takes a moment to pick up the phone and give honor to whom honor is due. If your father is in heaven, give thanks to the Lord that you will see Him again one day.

Not everyone has experienced having a dad who cared or who loved. Some have never heard their father pray or give honor to God. It’s hard to imagine for some to relate to honoring their father on a special day like today. But our God knows these things. He sees the troubles you went through with a distant father or an angry dad.  He understands that you may have been disappointed, discouraged, mistreated, or treated indifferently.  God knows and God has a plan even for your earthly dad. Only God can change a heart. I’d like to encourage you to pray for your father if you don’t already. Even the hardest heart can melt when God applies His touch.

Regardless of the kind of father you may have had growing up, as a believer you have a heavenly Father who is absolutely perfect! He is the kindest, most generous, giving and loving Father. He is completely just and honorable. He never wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, even if you do! He doesn’t walk away no matter how hard things get. He doesn’t leave you, forsake you, mislead you or forget you! You are the apple of His eye. You are the reason He sent His son to the cross. You are beloved, redeemed, blessed and delivered. You are set on high, watched over eternally and understood completely. This Father God knew you before you were even born and had a plan for your life – to give you good days and give Himself glory through your life.

Oh beloved, run this morning to your Abba Father! Let Him love you like you’ve never been loved before. Let Him shower His blessings on you as you bask in His presence. Let Him show you the great and wonderful things that belong to His children alone! He will father you, lead you, guide you and bless you all the way to heaven. He will set what was wrong in your life and rearrange it for good as you let Him make all things new!

Your Abba Father loves you and He’s always on your side and that makes all the difference in your life!

Psalm 103:13 The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.

2 Corinthians 6:18 “And I will be your Father, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Romans 8:15 “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, Abba, Father.”

Psalm 89:1-2 I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of Your faithfulness.  Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.

Friday, June 14, 2013

God's Love Is Sweeter

Your Love Is Sweeter

Love is No Substitute for God, but God is Love

I use sweetener in all my drinks.  That being said, did you know there are lots of different types of artificial sweeteners? Some are said to affect your memory. Others affect my taste buds, that’s for sure! Some are more natural than artificial.  Sweetener came in a little bottle during the 60’s and 70’s and one miniscule drop from that bottle changed the entire taste of the drink. 

Love is a lot like sweeteners. We look for what makes life taste better. We don’t tend to be drawn toward bitter or acrid tastes. Generally we are all looking for love, that perfect, accepting, sweet kind of love. It’s been sung about, it’s been chanted about, it’s been poetically written about and people may even spend their fortunes looking for just the right love.

Love is no substitute for God, but God is love. When we find this Perfect Love, everything changes. That one touch from the Lord changes everything! We’re sweeter! Life is sweeter! Love for others is sweeter! Problems are easier to swallow and sorrow is easier to take. For we know and have experienced true love!

Maybe you’ve been looking into substitutes for the real thing. You may have thought that the love of a man or a woman would be your ultimate gain. Maybe you buried yourself in the love of sports, hobbies or your job. You were thinking that if you gave it your all, truly loved these things, you’d feel fulfilled. Yet here you are, with all the stuff around you and yet nothing seems to make you feel better about yourself. You still feel unloved, hopeless, helpless, discouraged, depressed and dismayed. Life can be great and should be, but finding things to substitute for God’s real love will always leave us lacking.

Oh beloved, God knows your heart this morning! He knows you’ve wanted love to be sweet and good! He knows you’ve looked for your heart’s desire! He knows you’ve been wondering if there’s any way you can find true love! He sees you and He knows that what you wanted to be sweet turned out so bitter. But He knows too that just one drop of His perfect love will change everything in your life! His love covers a multitude of sins, makes all things new, redeems your past, refreshes your present and makes the future bright instead of fearful! He speaks to your heart this morning and beckons you to His banqueting table of love. His love is free, perfect and unending. It is a river of living water that will never run dry! His love will change your troubles into blessings, your heartbreaks into victories and your entire life will be so sweet and blessed, no matter what.

God loves you and He’s for you and that’s worth drinking in daily!

1 Thessalonians 1:4 We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be His own people.

John 7:38 “Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

Isaiah 63:9 In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.

Zephaniah 3:17 For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Ephesians 3:18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving-kindness”.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Do You See the Welcome Sign?

I have always loved wedding dresses. Still do.  As a teenager a friend and I tried on wedding gowns for fun one day. Now I know those folks that owned the store must have been a little frustrated at us, but you know they treated us like royalty.  They helped and admired and let us try on everything.

As I got older it was time to pick out my own wedding dress. This time it was not just for fun.  I had my mother and my niece Kim with me. Kim was my maid of honor. I chose her because she always meant the world to me. We were only 18 months apart, so we virtually grew up together. I still love her very much! We had a grand time trying on dresses, from huge hoop skirts to lacy long sleeved sequined outfits…finally I found the one I loved and you guessed it – I said Yes to the dress!

While in the fitting room, there are lots of ways to try on dresses that don’t exactly fit.  They use clips on the back to cinch it up if it is too large and other ways to fix and finagle the fitting so that you can walk out on the floor. When on the floor, you are placed in front of a three way mirror and they can also stand you on a riser so the skirt falls right.

All in all the fit can be made right for whoever tries the dress on.  No one is beyond finding their one dress. No one gets turned away, although some do walk away. They move on to find other dresses in other places- hoping to find that perfect dress.  To hear that a wedding dress shop turns someone away is unheard of.  Who would tell a bride she wasn’t right for their shop? Who would scold a bride and tell her there was no way she’d fit, no way she could purchase one of their dresses. I can’t imagine hearing a bridal shop clerk say that their dresses are simply for a more elite, exclusive clientele.

Yet often we see just that happen. Someone isn’t exactly like us and we tend to be stand offish. They make waves and we don’t want them to change a thing in our world.  They are larger than life or quiet as a mouse and we feel uncomfortable. Sometimes gang mentality occurs and everyone begins shouting at the one who doesn’t fit in and finally they just leave, of their own accord of course.  You can’t blame us – everyone’s welcome. Right?

Maybe you’ve been the object of someone’s rejection. You thought you were right where you should be, but no one could see your value, no one thought you could possible fit. They may have simply given you the cold shoulder; or they could have been outright ugly and demanding. Either way, you are left alone to wonder where to go for the next fitting? Is there anywhere someone like you can really find their place?

Oh, beloved!  There is a place that’s just right for you! It is in the Body of Christ! In the body of Christ everything fits, everyone fits. It doesn’t matter your economic or social standing, your personality, your flaws, your differences, your looks, your stuff, your height, your hair color – nothing matters! For all are welcome in the body.  You don’t have to have a thing to receive this perfect fit – for Jesus came and paid for it all! You are the Bride of Christ Himself – and He always takes you in, adjusts your life and makes you completely fit for heaven!

Rejoice that you can find your perfect fit in the perfect shop and never, ever be turned away! For the Owner, God Himself loves you and He’s for you just the way you are!

Ephesians 4:16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Romans 12:5 So it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Ephesians 1:4 Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.

Colossians 1:22 Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

Ephesians 2:19 Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household. (Amplified)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Are You Languishing in Damage Inflicted?

My dad carried a small wound from his years in the Navy. It made one of his hands hang in a loose fist. He had to work the hand to get it to open. It wasn’t the hand that took the injury however. Only a small scar in his upper arm could be seen, and only then if you looked closely. What seemed like a small insignificant injury caused a huge problem for my father all the days of his life.

Wounds inflicted don’t always show on the surface. It may be from a jab to the heart or a knife in the back. It could be shrapnel wounds from bigger bombs thrown out without care as to who it might affect. Those bombs are born of and thrown out because of selfishness, carelessness, disloyalty, cruelty, animosity, rejection or hate.  The ongoing diseases that follow the damage include sorrow, sadness, depression, desperation, dejection, unworthiness, self-loathing and more. 

Those who send out the damaging news, information, scars, pain, and injuries don’t want peace and don’t care who gets hurt. Although the person or persons wielding the damage seem fine, eventually it will catch up with them. They can’t throw out damage without eventually receiving damage to themselves. But in the meantime, you’ve been left wounded and bleeding on the road of life and no one seems to want to pick you up and help you. If you’re not careful you will try to bandage the wounds with old dirty rags that only make it worse. You may try to pick yourself up, fix your own hurts and find that the pain remains.

Unlike my father’s wound, which caused damage for his entire life, we have a Great Physician who will come to us and bandage our hurts and heal our hearts! He is with us when we’re born again and He remains with us always, whether in the good times of joy or in the foxholes of life.  We can rejoice, for we don’t have to live crippled, wounded, damaged lives! God is here to set us free from what others do to us, or from what we’ve done to ourselves.

Are you nursing your wounds this morning? Have you been hit by another’s shrapnel and find it hard to walk in the light of God’s Word? Someone may have said you were damaged goods - weak, sick, wrong, bad, unlovable, useless, hopeless, beyond fixing.

Oh beloved, don't give up! Don’t believe a word of it! For God Himself has come in and made you a new creation. He forgives ALL your mistakes, bandages ALL your wounds and redeems ALL your life! He says to you this morning, Fear not! For I AM with you! Be not dismayed! I AM your God. I AM going to strengthen you. I AM going to help you.  I AM going to hold you up and give you victory and justice. I love you always, I will care for you forever and I AM your reason to get up, move on and live by faith!

You don’t have to languish in the damage inflicted, but rather flourish in the love and care of the God Who sees and heals and delivers and works out everything in your life for your good and His glory!!!!

Romans 8:34 Who then will condemn us? No one--for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.

Psalm 142:4-5  I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought!
No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me.  Then I pray to you, O Lord.  I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.”

Romans 8:28 We are assured and know that …all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. [Amplified]

Psalm 34:5,18 Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.