Monday, September 30, 2013

Oh Student of Faith Let God Teach You!


I am amazed when I think of all the teachers I’ve had in my life. Of course my parents were my first teachers. Then there were special family members growing up. They all taught about family, love, forgiveness, acceptance and more. There were special teaching moments too. Uncle Tom taking me out to drive for the first time. I’ll never forget it. My first ride on a horse at John and May Green’s house in Magnolia which ended with a fall but still worth the ride.  My first motorcycle ride – and I might add the only person I’ve ever ridden a motorcycle with – still a wonderful memory. Lots of firsts, lots of learning.  Favorite teachers along the way who taught so much more than basic knowledge.

We never quit learning. Teachable moments abound in our lives. There are things we want to learn and they are exciting and wonderful. We ask to be taught and these things bring enjoyment in the experience. There’s a great sense of achievement. Some of the most profound teachable moments, things we get taught life lessons in, are harder to deal with. We don’t ask for those, but they come. They serve a purpose as well.

Jesus is our greatest teacher. And since He is our Redeemer as well He is able to make those teachable moments, even the hard ones, become our most cherished lessons.

We go through the hardship of loss and He teaches us that He is the All-Sufficient One. We need nothing else and no one else to make it. We find ourselves clinging to Him even more tightly, and resting even better in His Truth.

We go through rejection and He teaches us that He is El Roi, the God who sees. He knows our situation, He is with us in it and He will sustain us and comfort us and be with us.

We suffer with weakness and sorrow and again He teaches us to trust Him for He is El Elyon, the Most High God. He is able to cover our weakness as we learn to walk in His strength.  

God speaks to my heart: We don’t always understand the situations of life, especially those that come so suddenly at us, but we can understand who God is.  He says to you and me this morning : I AM and beside Me there is no other. While I AM the Great and Mighty Creator of the Universe I AM also your Comforter and Friend. I AM approachable, so that you can bring everything to Me. Together with Me you will make it through the trial, the test, the situation and learn more about Me. I AM all you will ever need, and I AM enough.  I AM your greatest ally, I AM the One Who gives you perfect love, perfect peace, perfect care. If you will trust Me with the hardest situations and let Me teach you more about Me I will take those things that have tried to destroy you and turn them into blessings for you.  Even if you feel as though you might die – whether that death is your life, your possessions or your ministry – I AM able to redeem every single situation.  As you lean on Me and learn from Me you will become more like Me, for I use every situation in your life as an opportunity to learn – to die to self and to live for Me.

Oh beloved, what are you going through? Are you suffocating in the circumstances or are you breathing in God’s Truth deeply and securely? Nothing will ever separate you from His love. Nothing will ever take away His loving care. He sees, He knows and He’s your champion teacher.  All the way to heaven He will guide you, direct you and keep you safe if you will let Him teach you in those most profound moments and let Him bless you in them as well. God loves you and He’s for you, beloved, and that’s all that really matters.

Romans 8:38-39 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Psalm 71:17 O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor You.

Isaiah 48:17 This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I AM the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Surprise! God's Gifts are Yours!


I have been given a bag of fall blooming bulbs. I am so excited to plant them. We got them in the ground quickly so they might bloom in a few weeks.  With this change in the weather they might just make it. If not, they will definitely bloom next fall.

They’re known as surprise lilies.  I think because they just multiply and come up anywhere in the grass. You don’t see a thing, no leaves first. Suddenly they’re blooming on a long stem. Old home places can be found by seeing them suddenly appear in deserted property. Even if the old house itself is gone, the surprises still bloom each and every year.  They multiply and multiply and what a showy sight.

The person who gifted these to me had no idea that they are my absolute most favorite ever flowers! I had no idea that someone was going to gift me with such a prized gift! And yet there, right in the middle of an ordinary day, comes the gift! I relish the idea of planting each and every one. I relish the thought that next fall for sure they’ll surprise me with their beautiful show.

God speaks to my heart: God’s precious gifts are all for me, all for you, all for us. Many times though we don’t even know that they are available. We catch a glimpse here and there and we’re surprised!

Surprised at the grace God bestows on us. For we surely would wipe ourselves off the face of the earth and yet God speaks softly and says come back beloved. Surely we know our misbehavior, our failings, our sins. We know our imperfections and we concentrate on each and every one. Yet He speaks love songs into our hearts.

Surprised at the mercy from the Throne Room. We were destined to die, to shrivel up like a bulb left out of the ground and yet Mercy comes dancing into our presence and says oh beloved, I AM granting you clemency, your debt has been canceled, your sorrow is covered by My sympathy.

Surprised by His love! I am, aren’t you? We are a works oriented people. We are demanding and we think God is too. We believe that the only way He could love us is if we perform! But we can’t – performance breeds pride. And we could never perform enough. Just as the bulb pops out of the ground grandly showing its beauty – God’s love pops out of the soil of our disappointment, discontentment and our failures to blow us away with His love for He IS love!

We don’t always like surprises do we? Sometimes we have lived with the depression, the condemnation, the rejection, the religious activity so long that we blink our eyes in disbelief? What is God doing we ask? He’s messing with my life! He’s changing the order of things – my order of things. I was comfortable and now God has gone and surprised me!  It might not have been good but at least it was normal.

Oh beloved, surprise! God loves you! God has given you grace, mercy and peace! They’re growing just beneath the soil of your heart right now and if you will let Him they’ll pop up and surprise you with joy! Take the entire gift of God’s wonderfulness and enjoy the view from His love. Look into His Word of Surprising Wonderful presents – and see what’s there. And then take it in, plant it in the soil of your heart and watch as God blooms and blooms and blooms. Rejoice as God surprises you with His abundance in your lack.  He’ll keep surprising you that even in hardships, God has a plan. He always seeks to love us and make us more like Him in all we encounter.

Bloom beloved, bloom, in the light of His love and in the light of His constant care. Let Him keep surprising you with all He is and all you are in Christ.  No matter what, God loves you and He’s for you and that’s all that really matters.

Psalm 111:2 How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them.

Psalm 126:3 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!

Psalm 40:5 O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

Psalm 84:6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

God Answers in Agape Love


 

This morning I am reminded of conversations heard throughout the generations, including conversations I had with my own children. Can you remember your parent being so busy that when you finally got their attention they shot out, “What do you WANT!?” with a good dose of irritation they would turn their attention away from whatever to you.  I can remember feeling a little ashamed of interrupting. I’m sure at those times I was short with my own children they felt something other than love and care as well. We are human parents and we occasionally get it wrong. It’s just one of those things. Fortunately most parents aren’t always distracted by life and we all know how we love our children and desire their best.  As mine are now older I cherish a heartfelt conversation with each of them.

Sometimes we think God is like an earthly parent. He’s too busy. He has too much on His mind. Others are more in need of His time. He doesn’t care, He isn’t available, it doesn’t matter.  We’re concerned that He will rebuke us or get angry with our interruption of Him.  We often put earthly personality issues into our relationship with the Lord.

God speaks to my heart: Precious child of God, when you call out to Me, you will never hear that harsh voice that is irritated at the interruption. You never have to worry that I AM not going to answer you with Agape Love, for I AM your Father and I AM love. My essence and very nature are perfect love. So when you call out to Me, because I AM God, I hear you. Not only do I hear you precious one, I already have the answer in My hand, formed from the foundation of the world. Before the world was, My answers were available. Before you were a glimmer in your parents’ eyes, I was holding you in My heart.

Oh beloved! Do you understand? Do you know who you are IN CHRIST? Do you realize that God is a loving Father, He makes no mistakes, He misleads no one, He never lies, He’s never too tired or too distracted. He is here, right now, for YOU.  You may not know where you are, you may be in very unfamiliar territory, you may feel that you are walking in a dark cave with no light whatsoever, but you are walking in the presence of God – you walk with Him if you are IN HIM.  And you are IN HIM when you are born again. We leave behind the country of humanity – short tempers, distracted minds, busy lives – and travel into the spiritual country of God’s welcoming arms.

Go ahead, reach out and talk to the Father, for He delights in hearing from you and talking with you. He loves you and He’s for you and that’s what makes a relationship with Him so absolutely wonderful all the days of your life!

Psalm 116:1-2 I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live. (NAS)

Psalm 118:21 I thank You for answering my prayer and giving me victory! (NLT)

Ephesians 5:8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (NAS)

Philippians 4:6 Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. (NLT)

Isaiah 30:19 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. (NAS)

Friday, September 27, 2013

You Will Not LIVE in that Valley!


We recently made a trip through the Boston Mountains in northwest Arkansas.  Normally I’m pretty worn out after the ride but this year it was nice. I like rolling hills and the not so big mountains in Arkansas.  We came home a different way to avoid construction and found ourselves going through a valley. Some valleys are pretty, fertile and green with slow moving cattle and the occasional deer. Other valleys are stark, treeless and without any green to speak of.  I find it hard to see any beauty in those valleys. 

God speaks to my heart: I’ve been through a lot of valleys. Some of you may be going through a valley right now. Some of them were valleys I chose to walk through. Other valleys showed up abruptly because of things that happened to me. At the hands of another, the valley can be especially hard. Can you relate? There are the valleys of decision, valleys of death, valleys of troubles, trials and emotion.

What do we do when we’re in a valley? What happens if a torrential rain of trials, hurts, agony comes? How do we escape? Where do we find solace? What if the sun is beating down so hard on us that we feel we’re going to burn up and die right in that valley? Will anyone find us? Will anyone help us? Where is the shade when you need it? Where are our friends? Why are we all alone in this huge valley? We don’t think we’re going to make it!

What we’re really saying in all of our valleys is “where is God?” That’s who we really want!  When everything else is empty, when everyone else has walked away, driven on, ridden out of our life, it’s just us and we have a Savior. And His name is I AM. His name is Comforter, Wonderful, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and He is my Abba Father.

Oh beloved, God is God in everything you are going through. He has not abdicated His throne. He has not given away His Sovereignty, His Provision or His will. He is stepping into your valley as King of Kings and Lord of Lord. But He alone is King. He alone is Lord. If you will look up from this valley and look to the mountain of the Lord, look to Him alone, you will find Him to be the All Sufficient One.

Nothing else is true beloved. You are not alone. You are not abandoned. You are not lost. Because God sees the past, present, and future, He is able to know beforehand what our needs are and therefore make provision for all that we need. You are not at the mercy of the buzzards who want to circle your circumstances. You are not left to be eaten and destroyed.

The Lord Himself loves you and that love is everlasting, eternal and complete. He is on your side, already making provision for you! Rejoice as you live in the light of His Word!

Genesis 22:14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (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.” (Jehovah Jireh)

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.

Psalm 42:11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Been Through the Wringer?


My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill lived in a small house on the property with the fire tower he worked at.  The house didn’t have running water until I was about 8 years old.  She had one of those old gyrator washing machines which sat outside. No electricity was needed and it also had a set of rollers on top. You’d put the clothes through after you’d rinsed them to squeeze out the excess water.  As I think back about that old washer I am amazed at how much work it was to use the thing. Now we just plop our clothes in, set the machine and close the lid.  Back then it was work. But the wringer sure got all the water out of those clothes. They’d roll through and water would pour out the back as they were squeezed.  One always had to be careful not to get their fingers caught in the roller as you had to hold the clothes and wind the rollers at the same time.

God speaks to my heart: I’ve been through the wringer. I would imagine you have too.  Hard times, unfavorable outcomes, hurt feelings, rejection, sorrow, pain all make us feel as though we are being squeezed until we can hardly breathe. We want relief but it seems we’re relentlessly rolled through.

It looks to us that we’re going to die. It looks that way to the observers as well. People are watching and we’re unable to stop the roll.  It’s too much. As the problems roll over us, we’re mashed flat.  

Except that God is with us. He’s with us as the storms of life put us through the gyrator of heartache. And He’s there when we are being wrung out and even when it looks like we’re hung out to dry.

In fact, while others and while we ourselves think it’s the death knell of our life, our ministry, our calling, our heart, our mind, God says it’s just a momentary thing. It’s really going to be okay. It’s not deadly, it’s not going to kill us. In fact, to God this squeezing of our life is just the removal of unnecessary weight.  All that’s going to get through the times of testing and trials is us. There’s nothing else that can get through the pressure.  And even then, when others think we’re done, we’re just moving on.

God will set us out in the breeze of life and pin us up for the world to see our beautiful life.  He will use us to help others to get through everything we’re going through, if we will just keep our eyes on Him.  No one else really matters. We might try to blame the offense on a person, a circumstance or a trouble. But ultimately it is God who has put us through the wringer and it is God who is allowing the excess stuff to be wrung from us.  And it is God who is holding out His hand to pick us up, shake us out and display us for His glory.

Oh beloved, there’s no way to minimize the wringers of life. I know it’s hard. God knows it’s hard. God knows you feel like dying.  He knows you must go through it. But He knows that you will come out better for the situation. He looks at you with love and He asks you to look at Him with the same trusting love.   Life’s situations aren’t always fair, right or pretty. But once you’ve been through it, and once you give it all to Him, He will make you sweet smelling, worshiping, growing and better.

His greatest desire is that you let Him have everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. He’ll wash you with the water of the word and together you and He will have a greater testimony of faith for you will know how much He loves you and how carefully He is for you and that’s all that really matters.

I Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Psalm 62:8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

No One Can Ruin a Life that is Hid in Christ

 
It was one of those mornings. Our 6 year old grandson was excited to come over and let me take him to school. We were having a hugging time and visit with Popaw.

Suddenly things changed. He went limp. I went to get the car out so that we wouldn’t be late to breakfast at school. I looked and saw him running back to his mother’s house across the street. After some coaching by his mother, and after limping all the way to the car as though he had no strength to walk, we were on the way to school but he wouldn’t speak. I knew he loves to let me take him to school and he’s usually quite talkative. I remembered that we had new praise cd’s in the car and turned them on. In just a few moments the whole atmosphere changed. He relaxed and even though he didn’t say much, by the time we arrived at school he wanted to stay with me the entire day. I asked Jesus to watch over him and we discussed visiting again this evening when I got home. I said, “We’ll start over and have a good time”. He said okay and headed inside the building.

God speaks to my heart: There are times when I just don’t want to ____________. I would bet there are times when you don’t either. Whatever it is that fills the line, we all have days that we’d rather be doing something else, going somewhere else or just plain doing nothing. There are times even when God is asking something of us and we just don’t feel we have the energy or desire to do it. We know we love Him. We know He loves us. We know everything He does is ultimately for good and for His glory in our life. But we balk. We want to run in the opposite direction. We want our way, our own plans, our own fun, our own destiny.

Fortunately for each of us, God has great patience. He won’t leave us in the dust or turn His back on us. He will sit with us and speak to us. When finally we start listening instead of stewing, He will pick us up, help us along and send us on His way.

Oh beloved, God knows your dilemma. He knows that you’d rather not go the path ahead. It may be that someone took you out of your plans, but no one can take you out of God’s plans. If you will get your eyes off the circumstances and focus on the Lord, listen to His Word, drink it in and take it as your necessary food, He will correct the situation and order your steps right. His plans are for your best and even when you are in a learning situation, you are not alone. He is with you, holding your hand, making His truth shine through your heart and giving you joy in the journey.

Ultimately no one can ruin your life when it is hid in Christ. The enemy has no such power over God’s purpose and people don’t have that power either. You can rest in God’s promises, Trust in His plans and rejoice in His love and care always. Praise Him in the storms, worship Him in the changes, look to His Truth when things are shaky and rely on Him always for He has you and your life in His hands.

So today, beloved, jump up, read up, pray up, rejoice and get going! God’s got a plan and it’s all good! He loves you and He’s for you and that’s worth keeping on no matter what.

Isaiah 25:1 O LORD, I will honor and praise Your name, for You are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now You have accomplished them.

Ephesians 1:11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.

Psalm 57:2 I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]! (Amplified)

1 Peter 2:21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.

Psalm 37:23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You are Priceless Treasure to the Lord


My mother was a trash to treasure kind of woman. She could spot something sitting on the side of the road, take it home and remake it. It would sit in its new place of honor and no one could tell it had ever been a castoff. I find myself doing the same thing. A rickety rocker or a bent frame can have a new life by a simple touch of a delicate hand.

God speaks to my heart: I’ve been a castoff. You may have too. Someone made a personal private decision that you were no longer worthy of their time, their presence or their attendance. So to the curb you went.  You tried to make yourself believe you were going to be okay, but the wind and the rain and the scorching heat as you sat in despair drenched you with sorrow. You wished, you hoped, you dreamed.

But before the trash truck can thoroughly destroy you, there comes One on the scene who has fallen in love with you. He has a place just for you; to display you in His home of grace, surrounded by His fields of blessings. This honored spot in His home is protected by goodness and mercy and unwavering devotion.

He picks you up, me up, all up and gracefully bundles us to Himself, holding us very closely and tenderly right near His heart. Although others are laughing and making fun – for you see they only see with their natural eye. They see tatters and rips, rusty edges and broken glass. They think the One who is carrying you is foolish for even bothering. Some are even mad that the thing they threw away in derision is now loved passionately by Another.

The simple touch of the delicate hand of the Master, the hands that were nail pierced along with the side wounded for you, has taken you in! You are no longer trash, you have become treasure! You have been Redeemed, Renewed, Restored! You are fragile indeed as He sits you in His Kingdom for His admiration and use. Everything about you is beautiful, perfect and useful.

Oh beloved, who told you that you were trash? Who cast you off? Who decided you weren’t worth knowing, loving or friending? Who spoke deceitful things about you? Who left you wounded on the edge of the street?

What is the truth about you? Is it the truth that you were dumped like so much junk? Or is it the truth that you, although considered worthless by others, have been bought with a price above all rubies?  Which truth you decide to live in is the truth you will become. And it is the truth you will share with others.

Run to the One Who picked you up out of the gutter and only sees you as priceless! He is your King and your God. But He is also your worth and your value. Others may spend their whole life on worthless things, but God gave His whole life because you are of extreme value to Him. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is what God says about you. And He spreads the sweet fragrance of your worth around the world for others to be encouraged and set free from their own dumpster of lies.

Rejoice that God loves you extravagantly and watches over you continuously. He said you were worth it, and therefore you must walk in the light of His Truth every day of your life!

 

Psalm 72:14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to Him.

Isaiah 43:4 Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. (NAS)

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (NAS)

Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (NAS)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Let God Tend the Garden of Your Heart

Between the past droughts and the busy lives we lead, my flower beds have been neglected. There isn’t much to even call them that. The spring bulbs still bloom but otherwise there are trees in the yard and some shrubs that show color early each year. It’s a nice yard, but it’s just grass and trees. Even the grass has had its share of neglect.

I want to see more color flourishing the landscape. Working for the cooperative extension office, I know what that’s going to require. Having a yard to mow and leaves to pick up is one thing. Pretty simple. But to have flower beds requires more work. I will have to pull weeds, put down new mulch, plant fresh flowers and watch for insects. This is something that is continually done. Oh if weeds only required one attack wouldn't landscaping be easy! If the bugs would just stay away and the rains come regularly and steadily at just the right proportion.

God speaks: flower beds and the Christian life are a lot alike. We are God’s most beautiful plants in His garden. His greatest desire is that we bloom in season, keep watered, stay tender and free of weeds and insects. HE provides for everything we need to be all that we can be and to thrive not just stay alive.

In order for us to be just what He wants and to bloom and flourish in season the weeds of life must be pulled. They have to be taken out so that our roots do not get entangled with them and smother out the blooms and tenderness in our lives.

But we become upset! We often just feel the weeding and working of God in the garden of our hearts, and it hurts! But in the spirit realm God is working to achieve His best – He wants us to be blue ribbon plants. We are His most prized possessions. He even wrote a Gardening Book so that we don’t have to be surprised when we’re plucked and pruned and moved from one bed to another. We just see our dangling roots and our former place in God’s world, but He sees better soil and a more beautiful spot created just for us, free of pests and fresh and new.

Are you feeling the effects of God’s magnificent work in your life? Did you think the little bugs of life were okay but now you see that they were eating you alive? Were you surrounded by grief, worry, fear, rejection, apathy, criticism and more? Those are not good mixes with your life and God wants them gone. Sure it may feel worrisome right now, but when you are settled, refreshed and free of troublesome things you will thrive right where God plants you.

God sees your condition. He knows you worked hard to put down roots and bloom and grow. He sees that weeds came in to choke your very existence and that bugs seek to eat away at your purpose, but He is the Landscape Artist and His plans for your life are beautiful. He has spent all creation preparing life just for you, so that you will thrive in His kingdom and be used to display His glory. He even penned the Word of God so that you will know how to produce much fruit and shine in the light of His favor and blessings.

Oh beloved, Let Him prune, Let Him move, Let Him pick the weeds from your heart and destroy the insects that are eating at you. If you will let Him, He will make you a more magnificent specimen of His love and care than you could ever imagine on your own. This Gardener is no ordinary man – He won’t pluck you up just to see you discarded – He will tenderly gather you in His arms and carry you through the process until you are safely in the exact spot He wants you.

God loves you and He’s for you so you can trust every move He makes and you can trust Him when you don’t even see Him at work for He Is Faithful and True. Now aren't you glad you’re going to flower in His garden for the rest of your wonderful life!

Hosea 14:8 O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from Me.

John 15:4 Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.

Psalm 121:5 The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.

Colossians 1:10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dreaming of More?



As we were driving from Fayetteville to Rogers on old 71 highway I saw a huge sign, “Selling dreams since 1972”. That really caught my eye and I couldn’t wait for us to get close enough for me to see what it was. As we drove past I looked and saw it was a weed filled empty lot with a gate and the sign. I realized it was an old mobile home sales lot. 

Actually they marketed their wares as selling dreams but there were no longer any dreams being sold there. Those dreams had not lasted. All that was left was the shell of what once was.

Dreams are for sale everywhere you look. If you can pay the price you can achieve your dream. But will it last? And is it worth it? Some dreams exact incredible prices. And yet even when the price is paid, the dream doesn’t last. It’s often a fa├žade of what someone is really looking for – a cheap imitation and illusion.

There are dreams that will last. They will stand the test of time and give great and lasting pleasure.

There is the dream for purpose. That can be found at the feet of Jesus. As we bow our heads and hearts to Him, He gives us so much in return. Ever dream of having purpose? You do, when your heart belongs to Jesus. You never function at greater heights than when you live in His light and fall in line with His will.

There’s the dream for significance. Everyone wants to find meaning to their life and feel they are part of something greater than themselves.  This is found at the throne of grace.  As you pledge your allegiance to the King of Kings, He crowns you with His significance. You can live beyond self as you find your worth in Him.

Maybe you dream of being more…. More beautiful, more important, more loved, more joyful, more successful…when you put all your hope in the Lord, you become all that you’ve ever dreamed of being. God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made – you are beautiful in His sight. You are so wonderful and so loved that the Lord gave His life for you. You have been redeemed, ransomed, restored and renewed. You are a success simply by being God’s beloved child. You are loved for God is Love and God is your Father. 
You never have to succumb to depression or discouragement, for the Lord has given you a spirit of power and might and a sound mind.

The world will sell you a bill of goods. It will tell you it can sell you dreams that will be fulfilling but when you pay that price and take that dream home you find it oh so empty. You have to pay and perform and keep paying and keep performing. But with Jesus, every dream you could ever imagine and so much more is achieved! Every blessing is signed in the Blood of the Lamb and it is signed sealed and delivered for you! 

Oh beloved, run to the greatest message you’ll ever read: The Word of God. Every single promise, every single hope, every single truth is all about you and your relationship with Him! Jesus made the way for you to find more fulfillment than you could ever imagine. He even promises that if you will find your delight in Him He will give you the desires of your heart.  Keep reading, keep taking it to heart, keep soaking in God’s Truth and you will find everything you ever dreamed of.

God loves you and He’s for you and that’s where your dreams all come true.

Psalm 105:19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

Matthew 6:21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires.

Psalm 146:5 But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wherever You Go - Pack God's Word



We’re traveling this weekend. We’ve traveled a lot over the nearly 40 years of marriage. Some trips were overnighters, some were just day trips. In more recent years we’ve taken a couple of long trips.  No matter where we go or what we are doing, I am bound to leave something important at home.  This time it was a simple bottle of shampoo, easily rectified by visiting yet another of those “discount centers” we all know and love. 

Life itself is a lot like travel. You go places. You see sights. You live dreams. You meet folks. You experience high mountains, you travel through desert valleys. There are dangers along the way. There are surprises and wonders as well.

Most trips are of great value and have lasting wonderful memories. The trip into marriage I especially like! Then there’s parenthood (yes it has ups and downs, but it’s good).  Milestones are met with joy. Surprises turn out to be blessings. 

Some travels are nothing you’d ever ask for on your own. There’s the travel through sickness, loss, bewilderment, rejection, pain, fear. Those kinds of trips you never plan for and you never want to take again.

But with every road we travel, each of us can, if we prepare, take the important things with us. We do not have to leave anything we need behind.  For the traveler who is in Christ, it’s all provided for, even before we need it. The Lord Himself is our Trip Planner and our Travel Advisor. He will tell us which road to take, where to turn around and how to get to our destination.

But He’s more wonderful than that. He provides the essentials in the trip itself. We have been given a full supply of strength for the journey, hope for the road, joy for transportation.  He lavishes us with love and peace, so that when the going gets tough, we can remain calm and keep our eyes on the road ahead.

Are you traveling today? Are you going down a well known road or are you traveling unfamiliar territory? Maybe you picked wrong or someone sent you the wrong direction. Either way, God is providing the way for you. He’s given you fresh light for the dark road, sure signs for the unknown road and promises to give you the desire to go on when all looks wrong.

Oh beloved! God has provided everything for you! He’s made declarations in His Word that you can repeat so that you don’t lose heart.  The enemy may have thrown his own plans right in your face to distort the windshield of your heart, but God is providing clear insight for living as you drive through the mistaken information into His Truth.  You will be able to pull out your travel bag of the Word and see that God says 

He loves you and He has wonderful plans for you and He’s carrying you beyond the trip at hand.  His destination for you is success and victory. Nothing else will do.
Refer often to His Book of Love, your roadmap for the trip, for the essentials to take with you and for your refreshment. He’ll always be with you to guide you because He loves you and He’s for you and that’s all that really matters.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 1:3 By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.

Psalm 25:5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Are You Building a Dam?



We have been in a dry spell here in Arkansas. Although we have had plenty of water most of the summer, it started drying up in August and it’s continuing. There are pockets of rain arriving here and there, but for us it’s certainly not enough. The grass is curling up and the flowers are wilting. Birds are coming to the birdbath looking for a reprieve. As I walk to the mailbox I hear a distinct crunch beneath my feet. I also noticed that there’s a “trail” now to the mailbox across what was once lush turf. We are getting rain this morning across much of our state, but who knows if it will be enough?

Water rights have been fought over throughout history. Several very good westerns have a theme of water. Most of the time war comes because some rancher dams up the river on his land.  There is one of two reasons why it happens. Either the rancher needs the water or he’s just selfish and wants it all for himself. The latter is usually a vendetta or revenge for some alleged trouble the rancher down river caused.  These water “rights” make for much trouble and mayhem. People have died over water. 

Maybe you’ve found yourself in a dry spell. You knew there was plenty of water, but now it just seems so dry. You feel you’ve been cut off from the river and you can’t get refreshed. You were busy working and doing your chores, tending your flock, fixing your fences, repairing your house and taking care of your family.  In the midst of all the good you were doing you realized you were dying of thirst. You’re thinking about other folks who seem to be flowing and refreshed with their own water and you want some for yourself. You’ve got to find a way to get some water for yourself. You can either attempt to dam up the flow in others’ lives or you can find your own source to sustain you. If you choose to go after another’s water you will have to face the consequences of taking something that is not yours to take. If you seek after your own source, you may find yourself still worn out and thirsty from digging your own well and finding precious little water there.

Or you can go to the One who is the Source of all the living water you will ever need! He has enough for you and your family, your friends, your loved ones, your church, your town, your county, your state and your nation! He has enough for those you love and care about and even for those you do not know, the strangers you meet. His desire is that you give so freely of the life giving water that even those you do not care so much for can have plenty as well.   

What are you going to do? Are you going to dam up the life giving water or are you going to just let it flow? Have you received the water of life for yourself? And are you willing to share that water with  everyone you meet? Are you going to go on with God? Are you going to be able to sleep at night with the decisions and choices you make? Will you, when you are all alone, say with confidence, I’ve done that which pleases the Lord? If you have then you will make it. You will more than make it. You will shine.  

Oh beloved, God knows the circumstances that brought you to the dry spell. He knows why the flow has slowed to a trickle. He knows you’ve done rain dances and put yourself through hoops trying to get more water.  But He says to you this morning – it’s time to lay down your carnal weapons of fighting for your rights. You don’t own the rights to My life giving water – it’s been giving to you freely by unmerited grace and favor. It’s time to let Me flow through your entire being and refresh everything that’s dry in your life. It’s time to let Me completely overtake you with My living water, so that you never get in such a dry spell again. And then when I have refreshed you, I will send you out to refresh others. I AM the Lord and I own the cattle on a thousand hills, I make the dew to fall, I give the water in the clouds and I made the rivers and named them all. Everywhere you look belongs to Me and I will give you everything you need in just the right time. Rest in Me. Let me make you a channel of blessing instead of a cistern. Everything I give you is for your blessing and to go on and bless others.

The only requirement is that you acknowledge that I AM who I say I AM. And that you humble yourself to realize that I AM the one who gives the living water, the water that no man can take away from you. This same water is enough, more than enough to sustain you, to refresh you, to give you a ministry of reconciliation in a dry and thirsty land. You don’t have to dam it up, store it up or hide it. Those things will dry it up. You just have to abide in Me and let Me flow through you. 

Oh how God loves you! Oh how He cares for you! Rejoice, that evening in the dry days you can live in Seasons of Refreshing and have plenty left over to share with others who come looking for refreshment!

 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 44:3 For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.

Isaiah 41:17  The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

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 68:9 You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance.