By Faith…

Good evening friends. Hope you are well tonight. While it was a beautiful day in the midwest today, it’s still early spring yet, so I am not going to get too excited. I do have faith though, that spring will be here real soon.  When I think of reality of faith, the first thing that pops into my mind is Abraham.  He left family and country to follow God’s asking.

A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking without fainting. Oswald Chambers

How many of us have felt like fainting but by some miraculous ability we remained standing. That’s when God shows up to hold us firmly in His grasps.  In reading the Proverbs 31 Ministry devotion this morning I was reminded of this concept in a different way. Think of a time when you were desperately tired. You have nothing left to give to another being, yet a need came up that you knew needed to be met. And from somewhere deep inside, you found the strength to meet this need. Sometimes, those are the situations where you see God’s intervention the most and you become as much, if not more than, blessed that you wonder if this was the initial reason the help being asked for. Maybe you needed the assurance God still held you close. For when you had nothing left to give…God did.

Remember the story of Jesus feeding the 5000? Do you remember what happened just before that? Jesus had sent out the disciples to go spread the word and they did. As they came back and told Jesus of their wonderful stories, he told them to come, go rest. But what happened? The people found them and followed them and Jesus felt compassion for the people. After teaching them he told the disciples to feed them.  What?? You know they looked at each other, possibly complaining of how tired they were. And now He wants us to feed them? From where? With what? There is one kid with enough sense to bring his own food and that won’t go far. But yet, they picked up 12 baskets of leftovers after feeding 5000. And lets us remember those counted were just the men. There were women and children there as well. Faith. How many times did Jesus ask his disciples “Where is your faith?”  How many times does He ask us? Where is our faith? When I look back over my life, I can visibly see the wonderful times He was there for me, but it usually all in hindsight. He never leaves us.

Tonight, we all have friends, family, fellow church members, people in our neighborhoods who are hurting, scared and who feel like fainting. Please lift them up in His precious name.  We all get weak in the knees from time to time and need His comforting arms surrounding us, holding us up.  Let’s stand together as God’s church, as we lift each other up in prayer.

I so enjoy finding these wonderful pictures on the internet with scripture on them as I am a major believer that pictures reach a thousand hearts and there are many hearts that need reaching across this world. It has been a rough year for all of us and many are still in lockdown. When we do start to emerge out of these forced cocoons, let us remember the beauty of kindness and how kindness gives us a chance to start fresh, regardless of the situation. Kindness is a reflection of God’s love and we can all use some of that.

Be safe and have a great weekend.

Not as Hard as You Think

Good evening friends. Hope you are all well. I read several devotions each day and scriptures to glean encouragement to share with my church and occasionally with you.  I don’t know if many of you read “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers but he is well worth taking the time to read. My oldest son, got me hooked on him by giving me his devotional book many years ago. Now I read him online. Today, Oswald reminds us that God uses the tiny things of our life to move us in the right direction for His purpose. 

I must begin to transform my natural life into spiritual life by obedience to Him. Oswald Chambers

I think there are times we feel defeated because of our thinking “how in the world can I rise myself up to this level of perfect holiness in the fear of God? 

Tonight I want to explain that concept but from a different angle.  If we look at the benefits we receive when we transform our worldly thoughts, making our motives more pure, it changes our perspective and our desire with us wanting to be more holy as He is holy.  And while we know this is what we should do … it can seem really hard.  So, I want to show you that it is not as hard as it seems. The world and the negative forces around us just want us to stay broken like they are broken. But 2 Corinthians  5:15, reminds us that in Christ we are a new creation. New…the old is gone..so see we can do this.

And in reality, we need to remember who really should be driving the life train…because when we drive it, we have a tendency to crash it. Not what we want and especially not what God wants. He has a purpose for us.

And since God did the choosing, that means we are part of His team. And I think we can all agree that this is a pretty awesome team to be a member of.

And we all know that we love hanging around with our friends. And if that concept is too casual for you, you can look at it like this – He is the King and we are all princes and princesses, for we are His children, working together to help purify His kingdom to come.

May you all have a safe and restful evening. Always remember how very much you are loved and always remember to be kind.

Connecting Power

Good evening friends. I normally don’t write on the weekends but I was so taken by this morning’s devotion in Jesus Calling that I wanted to share it with my additional thoughts. I have heard the thought of Jesus being God’s golden thread and todays devotion spoke of three intertwined golden threads. Ecclesiastes reminds us of strength three strands.

So in taking my mental picture combined with this devotion, I thought of the amazing strength of this golden strand in this devotion of Waiting, Trusting  and Hoping, which to me equals faith. The center strand is Trusting.  Trust is the backbone of our faith. It is the one attribute God requires the most. For without trusting in God, what would be the purpose in believing in God. Waiting and Hoping wrap themselves around the central stand of trust adding the support need to maintain our connection to God. If we say we are waiting on the Lord’s help but don’t really have our eyes on him, then we don’t really have trust in him. And while hope really refers to our inheritance in heaven, the three strands are intrinsically tied together to bring us hope and peace; Peace being another cord connected to our faith.

Waiting strengthens our trust, broadens our hope and fills us with peace.

“Always wait expectantly, in hopeful trust.” Sarah Young

Remember He is there right beside you. Believe in the power and comfort of the connecting strand.

I sincerely hope you have a wonderful weekend and I remind you as ever to show the power of kindness. Even when our strand seems to be tight, it is strong. So reflect the kindness you are being show by your connection.

A Heavenly Vision

Good evening friends. What a beautiful day we had in Iowa today. I spent 2 hours in wonderful sunshine and 50 degree temps racking my yard from all the winter gifts left by my dogs. There was just too much ice for me to risk doing it earlier, but now the snow has finally melted. And the vision I see in my yard is starting to turn green with ideas for planting already starting.

 I was touched by my devotion this morning in “My Utmost for His Highest”.  Oswald Chambers reminded us of Paul’s conversation that he had with King Agrippa. Paul had been falsely accused in hopes to kill him but was passed around from Governor Felix, then his successor Governor Festus and then he was sent before King Agrippa. First Paul explained that he had done nothing wrong or worth a death penalty, either against the Jewish synagogue or against Caesar. Then Paul explained to the King about his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he closed with this statement…

Jesus had given Paul a heavenly vision of what he need him to do, where before he was doing what he thought was right per the teaching he had learned.

As Oswald’s devotion reminds us, if we are not careful, we can lose our heavenly vision, usually if we become stagnant and are not growing spiritually. Our spiritual growth depends solely on us. In our bible study last night we talked some about how wrong teachings pull us away from the truths of God. But if we are earnestly searching for the truth, through the scriptures, which is the truth, God will open and close doors to make sure we go through the correct doors. We have to keep the heavenly vision given by God in front of us.

“If we lose “the heavenly vision” God has given us, we alone are responsible— not God. ” Oswald Chambers.

I think the proof in maintaining our heavenly vision rests on how we live our everyday lives. Are we reflecting the heavenly vision we say we have? Through this past year, I have seen many people who are reflecting that vision. Sometimes you have to see people go through a storm to realize exactly where their vision lays. Sometimes the storm moves us to a different spot so that we can grow and spread the heavenly vision there. Think how the disciples got scattered. They all ran due to the storm of persecution but look how they scattered the seeds of Christ. They knew what the vision was. And I think you can actually boil that vision down to a single word…Love.

In the NIV version of the Bible, the word Love is said 551 times…I think that means it’s pretty important. We are starting to open up a bit in Iowa. People are feeling more safe, vaccinations are more available, deaths and sickness are slowing down and we are starting to come back to church, to work, to schools and to our lives. We have learned a lot this past year, mostly about what is truly important, family, kindness, helping others. We must not forget the lessons we have been taught through this pandemic. But we also must remember to always reflect our heavenly vision so that we can show others how to have a heavenly vision as well. We must continue to be in prayer for each other and to help when we can. We must remember to walk in his light so we can show others how to walk walk in the light.

And in all things we must always be kind because kindness is a true heavenly vision for all to be able to find peace.

Wholeness even with Brokenness

Good evening friends. Brokenness is an everyday occurrence, whether it be a physical item, an emotional  item or a spiritual item.  Today at church we had a physical item that was broken, the women’s handicap toilet broken and it was broken good.  A whole new toilet is on order. An item you don’t think of how important it is until you don’t have it.

Sometimes we don’t fully understand the value of an item until you lose it and again, it can be physical, mental or spiritual. But brokenness is not always a bad thing. Sometimes things have to get broken for us to see how flawed they were.  Then we have a better understanding of what unbrokenness is supposed to look like before we can enjoy the value of new unbrokenness. Isaiah and Revelation both talked about making things new, things better, things unbroken.

Sometimes, God will allow broken things to change our path, not that he causes them to break, but he uses the brokenness to help us understand how to come to a better conclusion and walk a new course. This past year we have felt a lot of brokenness but in reality, we have made new paths and in some cases better paths regardless of the brokenness and have newness in how we live.

There are many of us who feel broken in various ways. Our bodies are giving away, our hearts have seen too much trouble and we sometimes forget to listen to the still small voice that whispering His love  to us every day.  But the voice is still there, with an ever present promise to get us through this life to become a new creation alongside Him. So regardless of the fight you may be fighting, don’t lose heart. The main battle has already been won and we are anew in Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So lean back and take a big breath. And as you relax in the arms of Christ, feel the daily newness of His ever present love for each of us. That is our wholeness. Though we don’t really know what the newness will fully look like, we know it will be fabulous because He is fabulous and we are fabulous in Him.

And remember the beauty of showing kindness to others who feel broken. When we show kindness, we show the love of God. When we show the love of God we reflect how through Him, we are not broken but whole, surviving and loved. Share the newness of unbrokenness, its cool.

Today is the fourth day of Lent and as we head toward Easter, I thought I would also post the message from Our Daily Bread devotion.

Day 4 of Lent: Forgive my hidden sins.

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

Psalm 19:12–13

Evening Encouragement, Peace

Good evening friends. Sometimes in life we find ourselves in a predicament, and a lot of times it is self-made. And when we fret over the complications we have made, we lose our peace of mind and our step with Christ. Then we are in a real mess. The way to fix that is to turn and go back the way we know we should go. I have been reading a little book called “Keep it Simple” by Ellyn Sanna. It’s a wonderful little short book of quotes and scripture to help us Find Peace in a Hectic World.  So tonight I am posting a few of her thoughts and quotes.

Take One Day at a Time

When we learn to take one day at a time, one step at a time, we begin to see the beauty in the stillness around us. This beauty was created by God to give us the peace we would need knowing this life would indeed be hectic.

Teach me the art of creating islands of stillness, in which I can absorb the beauty of everyday things: clouds, trees, a snatch of music…Marion Stroud

I believe that in each little thing created by God there is more than what is understood, even if it is just a little ant. Teresa of Avila

Now that we are surrounded by this virus and being secluded in the safety of our homes, we have a tendency to worry about tomorrow and what we need to do to fix things…that we can’t fix. It kind of puts us in a chair in front of the window to wait, watch and trust that Jesus will take care of it all…and He will.

True serenity comes when we give ourselves to God. Ellyn Sanna

So I challenge you to put a small table by your chair at the window. As you watch and wait, enjoy a cold beverage or hot cup of coffee and trust in the Lord to make things right. Enjoy the beauty you see and absorb His peace.

If in the US, I send you prayers for a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you are having to be alone this year due to isolation, bring an extra glass to the table for God. I promise He will be with you as well. If not in the US and still in isolation, still bring that extra glass to the table when you eat so God can surround you with His peace.

And as always, I remind all of us the value of kindness in all we do. It may make the difference in one life that is needed.

Evening Encouragement, Thankfulness

While we can’t tell by the temps outside, this is the month of November. Iowa has been hit with the craziest bough of Indian summer that I am still in a t-shirt. I had the AC on yesterday and tomorrow its supposed to be in the 30s. Welcome to the midwest.

November is the thankful month and we all try to focus daily on the many blessings we have and make it a point to be thankful for them. That is something we actually need to do throughout the entire year.

Sometimes when life is zooming so fast around us, we get lost in the “goings on” that we lose our focus and forget to be thankful…in all things. So we need to purposely slow down and be deliberately thankful. In bible study we talked about how we do things sometimes not requiring or expecting a thank you, we do it out of love. But man, how a thank you can make us walk a little lighter, smile a little brighter and be all the more willing to do it all again. It’s the same with God. He knows we are thankful, those who love him, but He still likes to hear it. I look forward to His brighter smile.

Having a thankful heart, brings you peace, it gives you courage and fills you with hope; hope will give you the strength to survive whatever ordeal you face, so then you are able to give thanks in all you do creating a continuous circle with God in the middle of it.

I fully understand we have not had Thanksgiving yet but I am ready for the joy and thankfulness of Christmas. So I am decorating early this year, and the very first thing that goes on the big tree(yes there are more than 1) is The Christmas Nail. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with that tree trimming tradition but I have been doing it well over 40 years. The Christmas nail is a nail shaped similar to the nail used to hold Jesus to the cross. The Christmas tree foreshadows the Christ-tree that He decorated for us with nails like these and the lights we put on the tree remind us of His light that shines for us and through us.

The red ribbon represents His blood that was shed for me. I can not think of anything more powerful to be thankful for…daily. The nail is to be hung inside the tree by the trunk where it is only known by the family who hung it there, whose hearts are fully aware of the significance of why it is there. Especially this year with so much stress, anxiety and uneasiness of tomorrow, the nail’s message is ever stronger for us. So I encourage you tonight to reach out to God in thankfulness for all that He has done for you in the past and will do for you in the future.

And in all that you do, do so with kindness. Kindness reflects the light of God, the love of God and the thankfulness we have for what He has done for us.

Evening Encouragement, Come

Good evening friends. I want to share a few words from the devotion I read this morning from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. It brought me hope.  This year has really been rough for a lot of people and the last few months in the US with all the political nonsense…oh my goodness. I felt like this country was going to implode. And we are not done yet, still fighting. United States of America…not so much.

Oswald reminds us that even in stressful times we have the essential opportunity to act on the truth of God. It is up to each individual to do so. We can’t do it for someone else and no one can do it for us.
It must be our own deliberate act, but the evangelical message should always lead us to that action. Refusing to act leaves a person paralyzed, exactly where he was previously.  Oswald Chambers

Throughout scripture, Christ told people to come to Him and He would show them a better way.  “Come to me” means “to act“. And He will always makes sure we learn His ways with which to act.

Through the learning and the trials we learn the value of His ways and His truths that set us free. But the truths must be shared. The love of God is cyclical. You are given the tenderness and love of Christ and then you act in sharing it with others, which cycles back to Christ, that shares it back to you, then you shares it onward, circling it back to Christ and then back to you…and so on.

When a truth of God is brought home to your soul, never allow it to pass without acting on it.” Oswald Chambers

Yet sometimes, it’s the last thing we want to do. We don’t want to be bothered; we are fearful, or feel unready to act; or think someone else can do it better than us. All excuses, all weak excuses but I love what Oswald says about the weak saints, of which most of us are. He says “The weakest saint who transacts business with Jesus Christ is liberated the second he acts and God’s almighty power is available on his behalf. 

We are created to act.
And everyone who acts can feel the supernatural power of life as Christ fills him. The dominating power of the world, the flesh, and the devil is now paralyzed; not by your act, but because your act has joined you to God and tapped you into His redemptive power. Oswald Chambers

I love that. It is encouraging to know God fills us with what we need when we act accordingly to His will, like he did with the disciples. 
So as tired and discouraged as you may feel right now, relax, rest and look for opportunities to act so that the supernatural power of life in Christ can fill you and lift you to new heights. And always remember to share kindness in all that you do.

Different Perspective on View

Good evening friends. Hope you are all doing well. I went to the doctor today for just a checkup and I am healthy as a horse…and heavy as one. Not a good thing. No wonder my knees are bothering me. I was so discouraged when I left and then I realized how very lucky and healthy I really am. I am fortunate to not be on any medication at all, a few supplements and that is it. I have always joked that I am not fat – just fluffy. But now it’s real.

Then on K-Love radio an encouragement message came on that gave me a different perspective. Yes I am still overweight and will work on it but the reality of it is our bodies are God’s temples. It’s where He lives. And He loves His homes, all of them regardless of how the exterior looks.

We as people stress a lot on appearance. Sometimes it is for our safety against the elements but sometimes it is judgemental, not only against ourselves but against others or what we think other people may think. But since God lives in us, He knows what our innermost parts look like and that is what he is interested in.  He doesn’t care about our exterior, He wants a beautiful interior.

So while we need a healthy exterior, and interior, the condition of our heart and attitude is what needs to be the most beautiful part of us. It’s hard. There is so much around us that brings up that negative vibe that causes cracks in our beautiful interior. Then we then have to, with God’s help, do some interior renovations to make it beautiful again.

Remember that God loves you, that He will never live where He is not wanted but will thrive in us if we allow it, making us bloom like spring regardless of how it may look.

  With God it is always a matter of the heart. May you feel His love this evening as He brings love, peace and flowers to your heart.  And as your flowers grow, remember to be kind. Kindness is the most beautiful type of flower.

Funny Words, SoCS

You know how some words sound funny when you hear them or when you speak them. Yeah, I know I am from the south and a lot of my words sound funny to those around me now here in the midwest but do you have those words that you over enunciate because they are fun to say. Linda Hill has challenged us to day with Stream of Consciousness Saturday to use a word we had to look up.

For me, one of those is in scripture and while it may sound different, it has a powerful meaning – propitiation. That’s a 5 syllable word, at least it is in the south. It’s a word that has  tripped me up a bit because for a long time I didn’t really understand its significance. A devotion I read the other day with Oswald Chambers spoke about it in 1 John 2:2.

Webster’s defines propitiation “1 – the act of gaining the favor or goodwill for someone or something, something that appeases; 2 – an atoning sacrifice.”

An atoning sacrifice, that is a phrase I fully understand. Jesus sacrificed himself to satisfy the wrath of God so that we would not have to. Wow. Intellectually I understand that but my humanness asks the age old question…“WHY”.

That’s why.  It is a gift of grace. Something we don’t deserve or have the ability to earn.

His love for us can not be shaken, destroyed or matched.

There are some of us who are hurting today in some form or fashion, or we have family or friends who are hurting and scared. I encourage you today to hang on to His outstretched hand. The road you are on is hard, bumpy and filled with holes but God’s love for you is strong, smooth and everlasting. And remember, it’s only temporary and He is always walking right beside you.

So feel His love and surrounding peace today. I promise the Holy Spirit inside of you knows exactly how you feel and He is letting God know even when you can’t tell Him. Take a deep breath of His love and relax in His grace. And as you go along your journey, remember to always be kind. It is a reflection of Christ in your inner being.