He’s Here!


Scripture for the day:  Luke 12:22-26 “Then Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens:  They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'”

Sometimes I take a little trip into the future.  I don’t know why I go there because it is a very scary place.  I am tormented by questions, and I don’t find any peace or comfort.  Here are a few examples of what I find in the future.  What if my cancer comes back?  What if something happens to my husband and I am left alone?  How are we going to take care of our house and acreage as we age?  And so it goes, on and on and on until I realize I can’t go there alone.  I need Jesus, and I left Him back in today.

So back I go to the present.  I feel a peace surround me.  My joy returns.  I feel safe, happy and alive.  Jesus is here with me, and I’m OK.  He knows my future, and He isn’t afraid.  And I won’t be either if I simply wait and go with Him.

So, here I am.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining, my husband is sitting close by, and we are both healthy and happy.  Best of all, my Jesus is here willing to listen, to speak to me.  I am truly blessed.

Song for the day:   “Your Grace Still Amazes Me” by Phillips, Craig and Dean

“Your grace still amazes me, your love is still a mystery, each day I fall on my knees ’cause Your grace still amazes me.”

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So, Who’s #1?


Scripture for the day:  Colossians 1:17-18 “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

My pastor spoke from these passages Sunday, and his message resonated with me.

Verse 17 says that Christ is before all things.  That simply means that He was here before anything in the universe.  He is eternal.  He was here before all things and He will be here after all things perish.  In my topsy-turvy, upside-down world, that is very comforting.  He knows what happened in the past and what will happen in the future.  So when I’m looking for someone to believe, someone to trust, Jesus wins.

The word “consist” means to hold together.  Christ literally holds everything together, maintaining the proper balance to keep everything working as it should.  On any given day, I may or may not be able to hold my life together.  Circumstances arise and my day simply unravels.  But not to worry.  Jesus is able to take my disheveled day and put it back together according to His purpose.

Verse 18 talks about Christ having preeminence in all things.  He wants to be #1 in my heart, in my mind and in my life.  How many things are competing for that place?  Football season is just around the corner.  I’m a fan.  I love football.  So which team is #1?  It is always the biggest question on the minds of fans.  At the start of the season, every team (well, almost every team) claims to be #1.  By midway through the season, however, it is clear that many are no where close to #1.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, Jesus was with me all the way.  He went to surgery with me, watched over me while I was unconscious and was with me when I woke up.  He held my hand during every chemo session, and He was there when the nausea hit.  No matter what time of day or night, He was there.  Always.  My favorite football team, the one I had considered #1?  They never showed up for any of the fun.  Preeminence?  The award has to go to Christ, hands down.

Christ died for me.  He took my sins and nailed them to the cross.  The blood He shed was for me, and He cleansed me.  My desire is to make him #1 in my life.  I want to walk hand-in-hand with Him wherever He leads me.  The path may be steep and rocky at times, but He just wants me to try.  He knows I am weak and get off the path at times, but He is always there to provide strength and direction.

So as football season approaches, I will simply smile when I hear all the talk about which team is #1.  My prayer is that I will simply yield to Christ’s call on my life and let Him be my captain.  Together, we can score big for His kingdom.

Song for the day:  All That Thrills My Soul is Jesus

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bdvrL52p8Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bdvrL52p8Q

All That Thrills My Soul is Jesus


Scripture for the day: 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

I have always cared about my physical appearance. My hair, my nails, my body were always important to me. I fell for all the ads about using certain products to make my hair shine, my nails grow, my body look great. It was an obsession when I was a teenager, and it consumed a lot of my time. I even remember “needing” a certain lipstick so badly that I charged a tube at the drug store where my parents had an account. I felt certain my tiny little charge would go unnoticed when my dad paid the bill at the end of the month. Wrong. I was in big trouble, and I learned a lesson. I never liked that lipstick and felt duped by the advertising. It was a first in a long line of lessons about wants vs needs.

And then along came cancer. First it started consuming my body, stealing precious nutrients to grow tumors inside of me. The tumors grew and crowded out major organs of my body. The body that had served me so well was under siege, and it was losing. In order to save my life, a skilled surgeon removed the tumors and other damaged areas of my body. In a few weeks, my body started to recover from the assault. I started to feel like me again. Almost. Then chemo was tossed into the mix of things. The person I had been: the hair, the nails, the body were simply gone. I saw a pale, sick, depressed person in the mirror that I didn’t know. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to know her. But God saw His child. He loved me, and He had a plan.

I grieved for the person I had lost. I couldn’t see that God was making a new creature. He was taking the old me and creating someone new, someone more in His image. I remember returning to my church for the first time after chemo. I didn’t wear my wig, testing out the new “me” in a safe environment. A little girl whose mom had been a real prayer warrior for me asked “Who are you?” I thought it was a very good question, and I started trying to find the answer.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” All through my ordeal, God had protected me, guided me, guarded me. I realized how totally dependent on Him I was for everything. And He was all I needed.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I was so sick and overwhelmed by cancer and the treatment that I simply submitted. Totally. I didn’t have the energy to worry about tomorrow. I simply knew God was with me. He gave me the strength, the joy to face each new day.

God had to knock me flat to enable me see Him, trust Him for everything. And I am so glad He did.

Immanuel, God with Us


We talked yesterday in church about being asked “Are you ready for Christmas?”  It seems to be the question of the day.  My thoughts usually go to shopping or cooking.  I’ve been buying gifts for a couple of weeks now, and they are wrapped.  Mostly.  The baking starts today, and I will cook for the next several days.  But am I ready for Christmas?

Isaiah 9:6 says “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  The truth is, we are getting ready to celebrate a birthday.  So perhaps the answer to the question “Are you ready for Christmas?” should be “Yes, I have Jesus in my heart.”  When you plan a birthday party, you invite people you know.  You don’t, as a rule, invite complete strangers.  So will I be invited to His birthday party?  Do I know Him?  The answer is YES.  I know Him.  I have a personal relationship with Him, and He is all those things to me.  Wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of peace.  But there is more.

Isaiah 7:14 says “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”  So, while Jesus is all those other things in my life, my favorite name for Him is Immanuel.  That is what I celebrate this Christmas.  God is with me.  He’s not just a baby in my nativity scene.  He’s not just a person I sing about in church.  He is real, and He lives inside my heart.

So I rejoice at Christmas about God’s perfect gift to us, His Son, Jesus,  Immanuel, for He is with me.  May you celebrate not only His birth this Christmas but the fact that He is with you.  As you exchange gifts with friends and family, remember that perfect gift given so long ago.  May His birth and life fill you with joy this Christmas, and may His resurrection fill you with hope and promise.

Merry Christmas.

Be You Bravely


Scripture for the day:  Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

I am a mentor mom for MOPS, and our theme this year is Be You Bravely.  This scripture from Isaiah is our Bible text.

Bravery is defined as courageous behavior or character.  Some synonyms are courage, valor, nerve, daring, audacity, heroism.  Fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, pain, evil, whether real or imagined.  To me, it is the opposite of bravery.

I read last week that the Bible says “do not be afraid”, “fear not”, etc. 365 times.  I don’t have 365 scripture references to back that up, but I know there are many in the Bible.  I like the number 365 because that means there is one reference for every day of the year, and I need to be reminded daily.

The Bible says in Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  To me this is a good place to start.  This requires learning about God and having a reverential awe of Him.  Ultimately, we are to exchange our attitudes and will for His.

Fear can be a real hindrance to spiritual growth.  Sometimes we are fearful because of previous mistakes, and we get stuck in the past.  We become rooted in our failures and are unable or unwilling to move forward.  It takes bravery to stop looking in the rearview mirror and start moving ahead in God’s grace.

Sometimes we are literally paralyzed by fear.  I remember one such time in my life, and it is still very vivid to me.  I was in my teens and was watching TV with my grandfather.  Suddenly, I had the feeling that someone was watching us.  I got up and went to look out the front door.  As I did so, the figure of a man streaked across the porch.  At that moment, I was paralyzed by fear.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t move.  I just stood there for a few seconds before I was able to alert my family to the potential danger.

Just recently, I went out in our garage early in the morning.  I was barefoot at the time and felt something under my foot as I stepped out of the house into the garage.  I looked down and realized I was standing on a snake!  I was not paralyzed by fear!  The next thing I knew I was up in the air between the car and a table, yelling to my husband!  Two scary situations.  Two very different reactions.  I did not exhibit bravery in either situation!  But my reactions were completely normal.

I can think of a couple of times in my life when I exhibited bravery.  In 1984 I was asked to be director of Vacation Bible School at my church.  I felt totally unqualified for the job, but I said yes anyway.  The main reason I was hesitant was because I would have to speak in front of everyone on parent’s night.  Public speaking almost kept me from accepting a job that brought me so much joy and pleasure.  God called me, and He equipped me every year.  I am so grateful that I didn’t let fear override my desire to serve.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I was too sick to be fearful, and so I raised my fist in anger at the beast.  I looked cancer straight in the eye and said “bring it on”.  The fight was neither easy nor pleasant, but God was with me all the way.  Because it was His will, I survived.  I volunteer at a cancer support facility to give hope to those newly diagnosed.  I am alive.  I can smile.  I am the face of hope to those fearful beyond words.

So how can we be brave?  Scary situations, evil intentions and calamities are all around us.  For me, I embrace Isaiah 41:10-11 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.”

Quite simply, God is with me.  He will uphold me, help me, strengthen me.  He will enable me to be brave.

Song for the day: “Fear Not for I Have Redeemed You”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xn0m8z_christian-praise-worship-songs-lyrics-2011-fear-not-for-i-have-redeemed-you-isaiah-43_music

 

 

Heavenly Sonlight


Scripture for the day:  Proverbs 23:7  For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”
My pastor gave an excellent sermon Sunday about our thought life.  It was very relevant for me.  Sometimes in my mind I am critical of something someone does or says, but I just smile and say nothing.  Sometimes those little thoughts take over my mind and multiply.  It’s pretty obvious they don’t come from God but from satan.  They are poisonous to me, but too often I don’t run from them.  I tolerate them.

They start innocently enough, small, seemingly harmless but quite deadly.  From that little thought comes a decision to act on the thought or not.  I usually don’t act on them, but the poison is there.  The problem is they can grow, become a habit.  Once they are habitual, they have a home.  I become comfortable with them, hardly notice them, and they settle in.

I spent some time in prayer and decided it was time to clean!  I took out my broom and dust pan and got busy .  I not only swept the main hallways of my heart, but I checked the nooks and crannies.  There were several nasty thoughts hidden there, and I caught them off guard.  I swept them into my dust pan and tossed them into the trash.

I took a look at the windows of my heart.  They were a little cloudy from negativity, so I started cleaning and polishing the windows.  Soon, they were clean and glistening, and the heavenly sunlight was flooding in.  In 2 Corinthians 4:6 it says “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Negative thoughts are sneaky little critters, though.  They’ll climb out of the trash and try to sneak back into my mind.  They will cover my windows with a gray film and block the light.  I’m armed now, though, standing on God’s Word.  Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I want God’s peace in my life, and I want to think on His things.  My cleaning today was good.  I will keep my Bible handy, though, just in case any of those negative critters try to make a comeback.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”  A stronghold is simply a devilish idea and I must attack it with the sword of the Spirit and fight. It is an ongoing battle, but I will be victorious in Him.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”  I will win.  I will bring my mind, heart and soul under the control of God.  Those little dust bunnies can just stay in the trash.

Song for the day:  “Heavenly Sunlight”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzyQBkatt-c

God’s Will or My Will?


Scripture for the day: Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

I strive to do God’s will, but I sometimes struggle with His call on my life. Is it His will or my own? Am I listening to the voice of God or the crowd? Am I being obedient or self-serving?

I have learned through experience that I am happier when I am in God’s will than when I am not. I tried life without Him after my father died, and I was miserable. I was happy at times, but the deep abiding joy that only comes from a relationship with the Father was missing. I returned to Him on my knees and will never leave again.

Through my cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery God has given me a special purpose. I am able to understand, at least partially, what cancer patients are dealing with. Some patients have it much worse than I did, but I have a better idea than someone who has never been diagnosed with cancer. I thank Him daily for my restored health and the ministry He has given me.

Sometimes, though, His will for my life is vague. I don’t have a clear sense of direction or purpose. It is at those times that I remember this scripture and go to His Word. On a daily basis, I am to love the Lord my God. I am also supposed to love my neighbor. Not just the neighbors I like, but all of them. He also threw enemies in the mix, although I’m not aware of many of those in my life. I’m to be generous with my time and my talents, my money. I’m to let the Holy Spirit work in me, control me.

Goodness. Maybe I don’t need a specific task! I think I have enough to do just from His Word. Maybe I just need to study my Bible more and be obedient to what I find on those pages.  It seems like a good place to start.

Song for the day:  “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SooFL-X7vnk

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