Our Firm Foundation

Good evening friends. Tonight we are reflecting on this past year and WOW…what a year. Definitely a year for t-shirt recognition…

Or here in the US we had a toilet paper crisis….even now I don’t understand that and now its all paper products are scarce.

Putting aside all joking, this has been a rough year. The isolation had been detrimental to our elderly, people who are social butterflies have not done well, jobs have been lost and the tensions in our homes is high. But on the flip side there has been some good with it all. We have learned that those who are able can in fact work just fine from home. Some people’s stress level has lowered and they have rediscovered themselves, and gotten reconnected with their families and some have reconnected to or just now connected with God. I have always been a believer that God will get your attention one way or another and while, I do not believe God caused this virus, I do believe God will use circumstances around us to help us learn or relearn to refocus on Him. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he explained that there would be times of suffering but that the Lord would always rescue us…maybe not how we envision to be rescued but rescued nonetheless.

All through the scriptures, we are reminded of the importance of a firm foundation which allows us to stand firm and that foundation for Christians is Jesus Christ. He is the rock that can not be broken.

So I encourage you tonight to stand on the rock we know is firm and stand tall. We will get through this mess, all of it, together, and hopefully somewhere we will recognize God’s might and love as He pours it out for us. Click on the link below and listen/watch the video of a version of Christ the Solid Rock. The song is beautiful but the videos of nature are amazing. I think you will enjoy it and be encouraged by God’s beautiful creation. And as always, remember to be kind.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCuOW6bdfMU

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.

Compassion Encouragement

Happy Saturday Friends. I want to share some encouragement with you as we all need encouraging from time to time. Today I want us to think about how encouraging compassion can be for those who receive it as well as those who give it. It is a key component I believe of Christians, yet those who don’t really know Christ have the ability to have compassion as well. It is a gift from God.  I saw a video this morning that showed true care and compassion towards animals. For encouragement to our church family, my pastor’s has a daily devotion online since some are still on lockdown. This week he has been going through creation and how as creation was done, it was methodical. Each part of creation was essential to the next part of creation. For example the sun, moon and stars were created before much else was to establish the ability to mark time, and to give us light – a separation from all darkness. Plant life, which needed the light that was earlier created, was then created to sustain life that came after it as food supply and for the air we breathe. We breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, plant life breathes in carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen. It is all important for survival. We support each other. And later animals were created right before man and man was created to care for the animals. Of course that changed with the fall but the intent was care, compassion…and mutual love.

While Genesis 1:26 reminds us that we have dominion over animals, Proverbs 12:10 reminds us to do it with compassion.

I am always encouraged when I see people going above and beyond in caring for animals who find themselves in a no win situation. The video below shows the compassion of a group of men who found a dolphin that had been washed up by Hurricane Laura landing the dolphin in a pond 9 miles away from the ocean. They came together to safely capture the dolphin and take it back to the ocean. It was most encouraging.


https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/video/hurricane-lauras-storm-surge-traps-bottlenose-dolphin-miles-from-the-ocean

God made us all with compassionate hearts towards His creation, not only to the nature side but also to the human side. Where would any of us be without the compassion from others. WE all have struggles. The definition of compassion is a strong deep feeling of sympathy and sorrow for anyone or any creature who is hurting in any fashion. Jesus is our greatest example for us to learn by, as He was compassion for us and taught us how to have compassion and use it to further His kingdom.

When we think of the compassion God always has towards us, we should embody that compassion for others. We should always be on the alert to share His love in any encounter we may face. We all know many friends or family members right now who are fighting health issues, hurting emotionally, scared, wondering what’s next and we should always be ready to reach out to all of them to let them know we are here ready to help in any way we can and that we are to fervently pray for them. Tonight, I lift my heart out to all who are hurting in any way and hope this prayer below brings you a  moment of encouraging peace and compassion. 

And as sad or hopeless you may feel, know there is always kindness out there for you to receive and share wherever you can. Sometimes it needs to start from you first and then blossom to a beauty you didn’t know existed.

What Defines Us

We are defined not by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens to us.

In a Oswald Chambers’ devotion, he made a statement that I knew but he shed a different light on it that I had not thought about before now.

“Our Lord’s temptations and ours are in different realms until we are born again and become His brothers. The temptations of Jesus are not those of a mere man, but the temptations of God as Man.” Oswald Chambers  

When I look at it that way it makes me go – WOW. Temptation to me is an inner draw toward something we think we need but know in the end, if we really think about it, it will not be good for us.  It’s a trial, as it were, of free will in being faithful or unfaithful in a choice that affects you and possibly others. But James 1:13-18 reminds us that while temptations give into sin and sin gives birth to death, God’s perfect gift from above still shows how much he loves us…even when we fail.

But the statement that Oswald made that made a lightbulb come for me was this…

“satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things— he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil.” Oswald Chambers

But we can take courage in whatever we face because of what Jesus did for us on the cross…  

WE just have to remember that and stand firm…knowing at times we will fail…but God also knew we would fail, yet still He gave us a chance for eternal life.

It reminds me of the TV show years ago called Mission Impossible and the opening statement of each show saying – “If you choose to accept this mission”. Following Christ to me is very much a mission and we are in a mission field. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose but we are always loved…and saved. So come on everyone…

Sing praises to Him who Gives us HIS grace and let that be what defines you.

And he does not care if you can sing or not, it’s all joyful noise to Him.

Ans as always we close with reminders of Kindness. Kindness definitely defines who you are by how you react, so be kind.

The images I use are random pictures from the internet when I type in scripture verses or themes.

Evening Encouragement, Change

Good evening. Tonight I had a Zoom Bible study meeting. It makes me acutely aware of how much I miss Sunday School. And it’s not just Sunday School but how I miss seeing everyone, seeing how they are doing, getting hugs and all the loving things we do as a church family. I miss the family but I am ever so thankful for today’s technology helping us stay as connected as much as we can. In the late 90s, Tim LaHay and Jerry Jenkins wrote a series about the end times called the Left Behind Series. I thought this series was great and I ended up with the entire series, except for the two they wrote after the series was complete that talked about what was going on before being left behind. I bring this series up because when it was written 25 years ago, technology was not what it is today and the people in these books were able to connect with each other worldwide through satellites – well, that was fiction then but true life today. Our world has become very small with the abilities of computers today. But even though the world is changing around us – God and His promises never change.

The bible reminds us over 20 times through old and new testament that not only do His purposes never change, He himself does not change.

And in a world that sometimes seems crazy and  scary with it’s fast changes, we have the security of knowing HE NEVER CHANGES.
John starts off his book reminding us who God was, what the Word was and who Jesus was.

Then later when chaos was everywhere and fear was running rampant, the writer of Hebrews reminded the people of Jesus being God and He never changes.

That gives us great relief, courage, faith and hope in understanding that no matter how bad it may get, whether it be from a virus, conflicts or the sheer feeling of hopelessness, God is always there. I love the footprint message that reminds us how much He loves us.

So remember that He is always by your side, just reach up and He will grab your hand.

And as always, I remind you the value and power of kindness as it reflects the living expression of God’s love.

Power of Encouragement

Sometimes it is the tiniest thing we do, and that is usually done unconsciously, that can bring about the biggest smile from the encouragement it gave. I think it is so important to lift others up especially in today’s chaos. Coming home today, I got tickled with the radio’s encouragement as it was talking about the encouragement you got from flossing or not flossing. What?!?  Even now I can not put that together but as long as it got someone’s attention and they were encouraged, then it was worth it. Even the USDA had a cartoon campaign by building a car out of veggies to encourage kids to eat better. Encouragement can come in many different forms.

Eating a car may appeal to boys…

While I am from the south and love my veggies, I prefer the encouragement I get from Scripture and friends and then I just pass that encouragement on to other friends and occasionally here at my blog. According to google, the most encouraging verse in the bible is Psalm 46:1 –

I can see that as being a powerful encouraging verse but I am sure we all have a favorite that speaks just to us. Mine is in Proverbs – well one of the many – 

Personally, I need someone to direct my path because I am easily distracted by something like a butterfly and then I will fall in a hole in the ground that I didn’t see. But it is the love of His guiding hand, the gentleness of His whisper and the power of His truth that helps us cling safely to every word of His “training manual” and that is what keeps us encouraged. When we share it with each other or with those who don’t know His words, that is when we again remember just how powerful His words of encouragement are and we can again feel His peace surrounding us.

So, I am just passing on the encouragement I get from reading His words. The more we are encouraged, the more we can encourage others and the more we encourage others, well it just makes a ripple effect that can spread near and far…like tossing a pebble in a pond.

Think about how small the initial ripple of a wave is when first made that can grow into a enormous tidal wave. May we all be ripple makers of encouragement for each other and maybe this will make it a happier world. And as you encourage, remember the tiniest spark of kindness can have a bursting affect of sunshine, so always be kind.

From Frustration to Kindness

God reminded me today to “Sit – Breathe – Relax – Love – Be Kind”. We all have those days when someone just pushes all the wrong buttons. I don’t have those days often but they usually come about when someone…rather when I feel someone is being …no  I am not going to say that word… so I will say when someone does not use the intelligence you know they have. And when that someone is someone in your family…well family is different and can be more frustrating because you know exactly how they operate. But then I think about how I frustrate God and He definitely knows exactly how I operate. I am sure He does a lot of Sit – Breathe…well, you get the idea.

He teaches us how to treat others in any capacity that we encounter them, then He reminds us through the lessons of the Fruit of the Spirit how people need to be treated. If we are given a choice of being intellectually right versus allowing our heart to show kindness in how we behave…then being kind should always win out over being right.  And like my Pastor said in the bible study on Wednesday, it’s the trials and situations that we face that strengthens us so we can survive and hopefully bring others along with us who are watching us and how we behave and then they want to survive as well because with all the frustration we were still kind.

It is through His grace that we are saved and while we ourselves can not save anyone…we can show the benefits of God’s love and salvation by being kind, loving and supportive. As we are currently going through odd and difficult times, allow His strength to cover any weakness you feel as you breathe in His love. Then you can breathe out His grace for you and others around you. And together, you and God, will have all the strength you need for any situation.

I leave you with a little humor…that says a lot. Have a great evening and new day tomorrow.

An Encouraging Word, Joy

Good evening friends. I am hoping to spread a little “JOY” in your direction this evening and maybe bring a smile to your face.  I love the acronym below for “joy” as it helps put into perspective of how Jesus thought about joy. We as humans get it confused with happiness, as in emotion, and in reality it has nothing to do with happiness…to me, maybe love, as an action verb, is a better comparison. What can you see as a better comparison?

JOY
We are starting a new bible study at my church this week, a zoom bible study as its how the times are now. The study is based on the book of James and boy, James starts right out the box with his thoughts on Joy.
 
James 1 2-3
 
There is no fun in suffering and hard times. We are having a lot of those right now but if we get quiet for a moment and allow Jesus to overflow our thoughts, we can feel the joy rise up in us. Jesus reminded us in Mark that the things the world thinks we should care about can actually erode our joy as it pulls us away from the Word.
mark 4 19
 
But 1 Peter 1:8 reminds us that because we “believe in Him, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”. It shows how on some mornings beyond all odds, we are able to keep going.
 
Nehemiah 8 10
 
Hebrews 12:2 puts a perspective on Joy that we sometimes forget but it is the main crux of HIS true JOY…His joy for us…
 
hebrews 12 2
 
Such a heartbreaking act of love He went through for us but such a joyous act according to Him. But we try not to dwell on the horrors of this gift and instead we dwell on the love of this non repayable gift and let the joy of it fill our hearts.
 
John 15 11
 
I leave you with these lasting words from Paul as he encouraged the Romans so you too can hang on to the Hope from the Holy Spirit and find your joy and peace.
 
romans 15 13
 
When allowing the joy and peace to overflow you, remember the kindness that can come from the heart because of the joy you may feel. Always be kind.
kind joy