Morning Encouragement, July 2

Good morning friends. Today’s encouragement is straight from 2 Peter and reflects why I share what I read in the morning with you. We as Christians all understand who Jesus was, what the bible is but it does our hearts good to read the messages in His word and to share them with others to help us all feel the peace and love of God. The last section of chapter 1 in 2 Peter reminds us of the prophecy of scripture and these three pictures remind us of the core of His truths which allow us to stand firm on His word knowing the words bring us peace.

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And even though we have not seen Him in the flesh, we have felt Him in our hearts and in the works He has done around us as He shows us He is always there.

Myth

So we must stay tight in His teachings so that we understand the directions He gives each of us individually to help encourage fellow believers and to show our light to others in hopes to help bring them closer to Him.

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So I remind you to stay enriched by His words and share your light with others who need to hear it. Have a wonderful day and remember to always be kind.

kind Eph

Lent, Is it For You? Is it Biblical?

lent

The practice of lent goes back to the 4th century, 325 actually, so no, it is not mentioned in the bible…but…(don’t you just love(sarcastically) a but when someone seems to agree with you and then turns a corner)…the practices spoken of with lent are scriptural, just not called lent. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter. Why 40 days? It symbolizes Jesus fasting in the desert to prepare him for saving us. So now people associate lent with fasting from food.

From what I can surmise, in 325, Emperor Constantine and the Nicaea Church held the first Church council and created the Nicene Christian Traditions which is based on Christian ideology. And Lent was part of those traditions. In the 5th century the church ideology split, then it split again in the 11th century with the catholic church, then again in the 16th century with the Protestant reformation. I say all that historical gibberish to show how different we all do God, Jesus and church. It doesn’t make us right or wrong in how we do it as long as we truly follow scripture. To me you can boil down religion into two questions – Who Is God & Jesus to you and what are you going to do with that belief and information. The way you prioritize that information is the reflection of your heart.

If you look at lent’s true purpose, it is an inward reflection of your Christian ways. What am I doing that has become 1st in my life instead of Christ being 1st in my life. The second chapter of Joel explains how desperate the Israelites were. They had turned from God (which is a repeat pattern even with us today) and God allowed them to suffer to try to get their attention. A plague of locust has destroyed everything and they were literally starving. Vs. 12-13 says Even now, declare the LORD, return to me with all of your heart…Rend your hearts and return to the Lord your God.

Lent is a 40 day true inward reflection with fasting to get you back on track with God and Jesus. It does not have to be a food fast. It can be anything that you do a lot and when you reach for that food, item of entertainment or whatever you chose to fast from and it is temporarily gone, your focus can then turn to God and why you chose that item to fast from for 40 days. And hard inward reflection. Me, I am choosing emotional fasting from the list below. I have tried food fasting but with health issues, its just not practical – I am watching the clock too much and missing the whole point of why I am fasting.

The biggest thing I need to turn from with inward reflection comes from my mouth. I found a list online from a pastor and I revised it to better fit me and what I want my goals to be so that I can be a better reflection of Christ.

Lent

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is ‘Day of Ashes’ so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the form of a cross.

Jesus prepared for his mission of saving us by spending 40 days of fasting in the desert. Let us honor Him by fasting for 40 days in preparation for Easter by giving up all forms of negativity and turn our hearts toward the love of Christ by reflecting His positive beauty of hope.

  • Fast from hurtful words and strive to always be Kind
  • Fast from sadness and be filled Gratitude and Joy
  • Fast from anger and be filled with Patience and Gentleness
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with Optimism and Hope
  • Fast from worries and trust in God
  • Fast from speaking and focus on Listening
  • Fast from stress and be filled with Prayer
  • Fast from selfishness and be filled with Generosity

So even though my church does not practice lent, that does not mean I can not have an inward look at how I am showing my Christian beliefs and see if I need some fine tuning. We should always look for ways of improving our spiritual selves. The practice of ashes on the forehead in the form of a cross reflects of the bible speaking of from dust we are made and to dust we will return. That is a message of truth for our bodies…BUT..our hearts, our mind and our souls – that’s what we have to rento God because that is what lives forever to those who love God.

And the first item on the list is Be Kind…

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Morning Light for your Path

I enjoy sharing the peace I feel when studying Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. She has a wonderful way in telling God’s story that really connects with me each morning to help me get ready for the day. Today she reminds us of the peace we have in Christ.

Come to Me and rest in my peace. My face is shining upon you in rays of peace. What a wonderful way to start the day realizing and feeling his peace envelope us as we begin the challenges of the day. We all have challenges, some small some large. So lean on Christ and let his peace comfort and shine all around you.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and cause his face to shine upon us. Psalm 67:1

Make your face shine upon your servant; save me by your loving devotion. Psalm 31:16

My personal favorite – The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25

As Philippians say in 4:7, May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I hope this day brings you the brightest of His light and the comfort of His peace. And as stated often in scripture, greet each other in love and kindness and reflect the love of Christ.

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Morning Strength

As our feet sweep from the bed and hit the floor, our minds begin racing to deal with our task or worries for the day.

early bed

If we would be still and  quiet just for a moment and and feel His presence,we would also feel His joy.  Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that “the Joy of the Lord is your strength.” And this strength can help you deal with all of those worries and tasks. Isaiah 42:6 reminds us he is always beside us “I will take hold of your hand”. Remember how comforting it was when your mom or dad held your hand, well our father in heaven always has our hand, we just have to believe it and trust it.

jesus hand

Sarah Young’s devotion in Jesus Calling today reminds us of the joy of God’s strength. “I, the God of hope, fill you with all Joy and Peace as you trust in Me, so that you may bubble over with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So, bubble over with joy and happiness today as you feel His strength to carry you through anything you may face.

bubbling joy

Bubbling joy makes you smile, smiling makes you kind, so let your joy spill on others today and be kind.

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Remember the Love

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of God. Eph. 3:17-19

First day

In my devotion today, it reminded me just how much God loves us and just how much the father of lies deceives us in making us forget that love or not believing we deserve that love.

Resist the devil in My Name, and he will slink away from you. Draw near to Me and My presence will envelop you in Love.

Always remember God is Love and that he has a hand of love reaching down to you at all times. For while you may feel like you are drowning, reach up to His loving hand and hold on.

a cross

As you soak up this Love, remember to share it with others as He asks us to and to always be kind.

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Mixed Emotions, Ashes and Dust

This is a post of many mixed emotions and possibly a thought just for the black hole of the universe with each person having their own opinion with most of us have a leaning one way or the other. I took a walk the other day for quiet reflective thinking and left being sad and upset. Why was this not fixed? How can this remain this way? Does no one care?

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You can tell by the tree its been this way for a while

 

Life is a cycle, I think everyone agrees with that. Babies are born, become young children, grow into crazy teen, then young adults, and so on until we die. We as living beings don’t like talking about death as it seems a scary thing. But in reality, its just a part of life. We don’t know what to expect so we fear it, or we lean on our faith with hope and strength. My faith tells me that with my very last breath, I die. Only to take my next breath with Jesus. It is that fast.

Scripture tells us that when God made Adam, he was made from the dust of the earth. Gen 2:7, the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. Gen 3:19, tells us that from dust we came and into dust we will go.  In my opinion of  how I understand the scriptures, and my knowledge is small, I think people get concerned about not having a body to rise from the grave. Ezekiel 37, in  speaking about the valley of dry bones and how God will give them knew life to be with him. 37:12 says ‘I will open the graves and bring you up’.           I Thessalonians 16 tells us that at Jesus’ second coming, the dead will rise first from the grave and join Jesus in the air.   But I think what people forget is at that split moment in time, we will receive new bodies, the earthly body is no longer useful. So it doesn’t matter if its dust, ashes, from the ground, from the ocean, wherever the remains are lying, they will be raised to new life in Christ.

Now that the philosophical and Christian avenue has been spoken, lets go back to the original shock of mixed feelings for cemeteries. When you think of all cemeteries over the centuries that are no longer in existence, yet the graves are still in the ground, then the pictures I took may make it more understandable. It still makes me very sad of the apparent apathy as this is a final resting place. I, myself, am choosing cremation as my family is scattered and in 200 years, who will care. Some of these tombstones are  over 200 years old now and only because perpetual care of the grounds is done does it seem mostly cared for. You could tell they just mowed around fallen head pieces. So sad.

This is all the more reason I push in all of my post for the show of kindness to all living creatures while we are still on this side of the dirt. Once we are in heaven, we are in the middle of all the love of Christ but can not get it that kindness back down to earth where it is so badly needed. So remember to always be kind.

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Recharging

recharge

There are times when our supplies are low and we need to build them back up and recharge our efforts. This week has been one of those weeks for me but due to the massive heat wave we are having, which is not normal for this area, the outdoor activities for today have been canceled allowing me to recharge.

This morning’s devotion was very much a recharge for me and I thought I would share. I am a firm believer in sharing the riches I pull from my devotions as much as I also enjoy other’s teachings on things they obtain from their studies. I think it is a way we can build each other up in His love.

Sarah Young’s book Jesus Calling for July 18 made a statement from Hebrews 11 talking about faith as being something we believe in that we can not see. While that is true as the stories and truths of the bible happened thousands of years ago, we still believe in them happening, the truths that they teach us and how we can apply those truths to situations we face today.

But understanding those truths, as much as I am able, (because each time I read them I get a different perspective)  when I see the beauty and ugliness of life, it only strengthens those truths.

The beauty we see helps bring us hope when ugliness happens. Here are today’s scripture readings to remind you that he did it all for us – Acts 17:24-28 NIV

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so men would seek him and perhaps reach out to him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in  him we live and move and have our being.

I pray that today as we come together in reading each other’s blogs, that we also share in each other’s love and happiness and may you also share in the peace, love and grace offered daily to you by God above. And if you can, share that love and kindness with others so that the ever growing ripples of love never stop.

kind ripples

 

Trust, Obey and Enjoy

My  morning devotion spoke to me today and so I am sharing my thoughts with you. When God was first laying down the foundational rules in Exodus, he told the people he was a jealous God and to worship no other God’s but him.

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In today’s world, we often sugar coat the gentleness and kindness of God and forget his powerful being – the ultimate rule maker, the mighty Father. We don’t want to believe he will ever punish us, we don’t want him being something we fear because fear is a negative aspect. God is never negative, right? Do you read the same old testament that I read? How many people were killed by the command of God. Why would you worship a being that does that? Be cause he loves me! And people forget that and lose his love.

When Joshua first invaded Canaan, the first town on agenda for God was Jericho. Jericho, who many many generations ago, forgot who God was now going to be punished for forgetting. So God tells the people to walk around the walled city and then come back to camp. The people – the entire nation of Israel – just walking around the massively walled city. So let’s think about that a minute. You are an Israelite, and God says you will conquer the land. How is walking around the city conquering the land. I am sure there were some in that group that were think, “what? is this how we are conquering?” And I am sure the people of Jericho, who were originally shaking in their boots with fear hearing all the stories of the Red Sea parting and the destruction of the Egyptian army, were wondering “what is this, why are we scared of this?” Evidently none of them knew the song called Trust and Obey.

Then on the 7th day, the walls miraculously just fell down. Walls that had been standing as a fortress for hundreds of year…just fell. And all the people of Jericho, all the people, were killed. Trust and Obey, for there is no other way….

In Sarah Young’s devotional  Jesus Calling for July 11, she reminded us that today’s false gods are out of the realm of religion. Those of us who are practicing the Christian religion have a tendency to get complacent, especially here in the US. And sometimes that complacency can turn us to worshiping other things than God. Oh, it was not our intention and there may not be a physical thing we have set up in our home we bow down to, but any thing that gets in the way of our worship of God can easily become an idle; our jobs, more money, and a big one is our TIME.

24 hours in a day x 7 days = 168 hours, 168 hours in a week x 52 weeks = 8736 hours, 52 Sundays x 1 hour = 52 hours. Not sure 52 hours out of 8736 hours show a good representation of loving our God. How many hours do you spend with your friends doing fun stuff. If you spend an average of 5 hours a week doing fun stuff that is 260 hours, you see where I am going here. God does not want you to not enjoy going and doing fun  stuff. He created a lot of fun stuff for you to do. He just wants to go with you. He wants to be part of your everyday, to share your highs, not just coming when the moments are low.

So as you go about your day, everyday, ask Him to come along smile with him at the funny ‘coincidences’ that seem to happen and realize – “I know that was You God.” And as you smile with him, remember to be kind like him.

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Attitude of Hope and Love

There is so much sadness in this word today. So many broken promises, so many hurts both physically and mentally but I cling desperately to the spiritual truth of God’s love for me and all of mankind and of course for His creation with all its components. He said after creating the world at the beginning that it was good.

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And it was meant for good but alas, it failed due to the weakness of man and the trickery of the evil one. It failed due to the misunderstanding and distrust of man of God. It failed because man forgot the first love. Not our first love that we remember but we have forgotten that HE loved us first.

So many have become so complacent with the world that God is no longer even in their picture.  Then they question those of us who still hang on to God’s hand and His love for us asking “WHY??”. My answer to them is…

I would rather live my life fully believing in a God that loves me, will take care of me, will guide me in all ways but when I go to die, only to realize the belief I encourage myself and others of the joy and peace we felt through our entire lives was only our imagination and none of our beliefs were true and once you are dead its over…..   Than to live my life not thinking anything about a God that loves me, throwing all of my life and cares to the wind and doing everything that pleased only me, never thinking of the harm or discord I brought to anyone or anything else, then to die and realize in horror that I was wrong. There was in fact a loving God who loved me and cared for me and now…it is too late for me and I am lost forever.

That would be the saddest scenario that I can imagine. May we all strive to believe that there is a just, loving and compassionate God who left us an instruction book called the Bible to guide us in any way that we need, to help us face our toughest day, and to show us how to feel the joy of His peace that he offers us through His grace to all of His creation and that He does dearly love us.

And may we remember to reflect His love by showing the kindness He so heavily graces us with so that we in turn we can give it to those who have forgotten His ways and maybe bring them a smile and a hope of His love for them.

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The Warm Fuzzies

Jut got home good from church so I am still feeling the warm fuzzies. That doesn’t always happen but today Pastor Rob really struck home on some key things for me as a Christian. No, he did not preach on warm fuzzies but on the power of prayer. We are all familiar with the golden rule, some may not realize it is biblical because it expresses something we all want, to be treated fairly. John 6:31 – Do to others as you would have them  do to you. 

I found this picture of a explanation by Michael Josephson sometime ago that to me sheds a different light on that rule and I liked it.

Golden Rule
Its About WHO WE ARE, not who they are!

John 6: 27-36 goes into other details of why we treat all people with kindness, even people who may mistreat us, as kindness is an expression of God’s love. It is easy to love those who love us but infinitely hard to love those who are mean to us just because they can be.

John 6,27 28

But we are to be reflections of God Most High and He is…Love. He is Kind to the unkind. Verse 36 tells us – Be merciful, just as you Father is merciful. And if you just can not do that face to face because you know the rebuttal you will invoke, then pray for them. Always pray.

power of prayer

The benefits of peace you will receive from the prayers you make or the kindness you give will never be removed from you.

One of the songs we sang today was When Peace Like A River. It is such a wonderful visual image of His love continually flowing over us like a river, soaking us with His peace. The warm fuzzies of peace.  And like the last song that we sang, Better Than Life, its closing line says Your loving kindness is better than life!

So I encourage you today to come join me in the warm fuzzies and remember even in the meanness that you sometimes come upon, always try to be kind. Sometimes when we are nice to meanness, it stops it in its tracks as it tries to understanding why you were kind…and maybe it will begin to change.

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