The Door of the Cross

The importance of daily study of the Bible creates for us light bulb moments. You know what I mean…those moments where you have looked at a passage a hundred times. You think you fully understand what it means and then something happens in your day that when you read that passage for the hundred and first time it gives it an entirely new understanding – a light bulb moment.

Although we don’t fully understand it, we all believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Oswald Chambers in his devotion this morning reminded us of the gift God gave us. He deliberately limited His, omnipotence, His omnipresence and His omniscience to be the Son of Man…for us.

During Jesus’ time, the people of God were under the law. Billy Graham reminds us that the law was a mirror reflecting the wayward heart of man. While the law in itself wasn’t bad, man would never be able to follow it, he was condemned by it. But the Cross and Jesus’ ascension into heaven redeemed us from the power and condemnation of the law.

 When Jesus ascended into heaven, He returned to His Father in glory not only as the Son of God but also as the Son of Man. And as He did this, He left the door wide open for anyone to have access through that door of the Cross to the Throne of Heaven. And now, Jesus, as the Son of God and the Son of Man, has all the power at the Throne of God. So take a deep breath knowing as hard as it can be sometimes, God always has our back.

And knowing that God has your back, remember to be kind. Someone next to you may not know that.

Always Be Kind

His Reach, Our Perseverance

I wanted to share the words of my devotional this morning from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. We sometime have life forces pounding on us that seem more than we can stand. We are moaning “enough”. But Oswald reminds us…

Perseverance means more than endurance, more than simply holding on until the end. Oswald Chambers

Revelations is a book of hope reminding us that we can survive this life if we just hold o and trust Him.

“A person’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something we can not see, but our Lord continues stretching until His purpose is in sight, then he lets the arrow fly.” Oswald Chambers

Even though we feel we can take no more, if we continue to maintain an intimate relationship with Christ our faith in Him will help us persevere.

“Faith is not some weak and pitiful emotion. It is a strong and vigorous confidence built on God’s love for us.” Oswald Chambers

“The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering.” Oswald Chambers

So as you face the trials of this life, raise and uplifted hand above and I promise He has a hand reaching down to you to help you survive. He never puts more on us than we can tolerate.

And in closing I remind us all of the power of kindness. Kindness has a power of strength that can not be measured and it can sometimes be the one thing that helps us survive, whether we give it or receive it.

Reach out to be kind.

Basic Needs

The advertisers across the globe will argue with you and confuse you as to the difference between want and need. That brand new sparkly shinny thing you just have to have is a want and it is their job to explain to you why you NEED it.

According to some reports I have read, there are five basic needs for all living creatures – air, water, food, shelter & safety. Every living thing including plants need these things. But I find it interesting that even with these things met, a basic need not mentioned, that if never met, will result in death. So what is the most valued basic need? Love.

Galatians reminds us of the fruits of the spirit and at the top of the list is Love, because without love, the rest won’t work. You can’t have Joy without love, you cant have peace without love, you cant have patience without love…and so on and so on…

I remember a horrible song we sang as kids that we laughed about but as an adult, I wonder how many kids felt like this song : Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna go eat worms. Gross. But it is true. All living creatures need love and affection. We see pictures on Facebook all the time about animals cuddling up to another animal of a different specie just to get some love. They get it.

Biblical scriptures remind us over and over about the importance of love…then Jesus demonstrated a love we could not fully comprehend but are so thankful for. The 15th chapter of John has so many wonderful ways of telling us about this profound love that is available to all living being.

And by abiding in him does not mean Him being over us but beside us…as friends. He wants the type of close relationship with us that you would have with a best friend. One where we feel comfortable to go to him when life is fun, when life is sad, or when life is scary.

And look again at all the attributes of that Love : Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Gentleness and Self Control.

Kindness is an attribute. I push for in all I do and I add it to every post to remind us all of its value. Sharing a little kindness is sharing a little love.

So, Always be kind!

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.