Morning Encouragement

Good morning friends. Today in the Mid-west it is a wet and gloomy day. No rain but just heavy humidity and gray clouds. It is a great day to visualize and understand the true joy of Christ. In my reading this morning in Jesus Calling, Sarah reminded us that joy is not dependent on what we see, what our circumstances are or how we feel. We can be on top of a mountain enjoying the beautiful sunshine or in the bottom of the damp valley surrounded by foggy gloom. Regardless of what is going on around us, we can feel the true joy of Christ.

“True Joy is a by-product of living in God’s presence.” Sarah young.

We are creatures of habit trying to gain our happiness from the things we see instead of knowing or understanding who is standing right by us, that we may not see. God’s presence in our lives not only breaks through the gloomy clouds but can reflect from us onto others as we go through this life.  And there is no limit to the love He wraps around us for us to give also to others.

And although we don’t like the trials, the trials can give us perspective, understanding and hope. And Romans reminds us that “hope does not disappoint”. It strengthens our faith to survive the trials.

The Holy Spirit is ever present reminding us of His constant love even though we may be hurting from the effects of this world. That pain is not forever, but His love is. He speaks of His love all through His Word, and He showed us His ultimate love by dying for us when we didn’t deserve it. So when you face gloomy days, remember the light reflecting off of His face, just for us. He is always close by.

May you feel His love and Peace engulf your possible gloomy times. Know that the brightness of His love will melt that gloom. Embrace it and remember to be kind. Giving kindness, even when not deserved, can show others the beauty of God’s love.

Always be Kind

An Evening Encouragement

Good evening friends. This is coming a little later in the week than normal but I still wanted to send out an encouraging hug even though late. For we all need hugs from time to time. Pastor’s sermons for the last couple of weeks have been on Ephesians 6. A wonderful series to assure us of God’s protection that is there for us to use.  After Sunday’s sermon on the Breastplate of Righteousness, I spoke with him on how I knew intellectually I was not righteous but yet we are told to be righteous as He is righteous.  But his series shows us how Jesus’s righteousness is given to us because of His love for us when we follow His lead.  It got me to thinking about the word righteousness – what does it really mean?  The dictionary says it is the quality of being morally right. A Christian layman’s definition is simply standing right with God.

I saw that there were over 520 scriptures in the bible that talk about righteousness, therefore it is important and I need to pay attention.  But my evening devotion Tuesday night talked about another object of righteousness, a crown of righteousness. 

God’s righteousness is there for all of us who love Him. So when life’s trials seem to have run over you like a bulldozer, know that God knows your heart. He has promised a reward that none of us deserve but because we love Him and are eagerly waiting for His return, he has a crown of righteousness to give us. The righteousness we have is not our own by what we do but is the righteousness of Jesus Himself that He has passed on to us. 

When life may seem to be going fast and difficult for you, he wants you to reach up for His hand and He will walk with you through any trial you may face and bring you peace.

May you have a peaceful evening and remember tomorrow to show kindness wherever you can. Kindness given to others creates fertile soil for more kindness to grow.

Always Be Kind

Faith Hope & Love, Encouragement & FOTD

Faith, Hope and Love are to me the top attributes to the Christian faith. Today I want to tie that in with flowers and Cee’s Flower of the Day as I show off my sunflowers, again.

When my sunflowers started growing, because I am on the quirky side, I gave them names. Some got a name change due to how they bloomed and some remained true to their name. First we have the King and Queen. The King was the first on the scene, planted by the local bird population. King kept his name due to his flower being the largest of all at 9.5 inches (214.3mm) across. While his height was less impressive, King still stands 4.5 feet (1372mm) high. He looks to be on his way out but he actually is just about fully ripe. If you look at the top you can see the seeds starting to show their heads. Soon he will be a feast for the birds.

The King

Queen is much more flamboyant and beautiful as any queen should be. While her blooms are much smaller at 6 in (152mm) she does showoff with14 blooms and she stands at 8.5 feet (2591mm).

The Queen

As beautiful as these two are, the three that guard my gate as I go in and out have been named Faith, Hope & Love. Faith is closest to the gate to refresh me as I go in and out. Hope is furthest from the gate but like his namesake, he is strong, protective and holds the three together. Love is in the middle radiating his name by reflecting his beauty with leaves larger than my hands together.

Faith, Hope & Love

These three have yet to show their flowers but their stature is quite impressive. Hope, on the far left, is 9.5 feet (2896 mm) tall showing 10 buds to share his smiles with those who see them. Faith, on the right, is a little taller at 10 feet (3048 mm) and seems to have only 1 colossal bud, which is fitting for our faith should be large and strong to carry us through any crisis we face. Love takes over the center position which is fitting as love should be centered in who we are and how we are. Love is also the tallest and the largest at 12.5 feet (3810mm) tall. Its stalk is so large that I can barely wrap my fingers around it. Love has more than 12 buds thus far and I still see buds forming because it is still growing. This is how our love should be – strong, with multiple buds and height to be seen from afar.

I am a firm believer that God shows His beauty of faith, hope and love in all things that he creates for us to enjoy and learn of His caring nature. So look at nature with a different eye and let the fullness of Christ fill you with its various forms of beauty.

And in closing, I always like to remind us all of the power of kindness. Kindness can calm, soothe, encourage and give hope for almost any situation. So remember to always be kind.

Kick Moodiness to the Curb

Good morning friends. I wanted to share some encouragement that I got from my devotion this morning. Oswald Chambers reminds us that when we become born again, we have a new way of thinking and a new way of reasoning.

Many of us miss a lot of the joy God has for us because we stay at the door of Christianity instead of walking through embracing His Love. We fail and blame things on the devil when it is really ourselves because we won’t get out of our own way. Think of where we would be if we fully embraced God’s truth. Its hard. We get discouraged and we let our moods run the show. Our moods are rooted in some physical circumstance that is surrounding us. We can pray about it but in reality we just need to stand up to the mood and kick it to the curb. It is a struggle to listen to these moods but we must stand firm against them and not give them the power to rule us.

The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh. Oswald Chambers

When we feel ourselves being beaten down by our moods, we need to pick ourselves up, shake the mood off and march forward into the peace Christ has for us – even when it seems impossible. Stand Firm!

Sometimes when you are in the midst of a hard struggle and you find that you can still be kind. That is when you have learned to stand firm. Try always to be kind.

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.

Evening Encouragement, Focus

Good evening friends. This week is Holy Week and all of us are all looking forward to Easter.  Since we have been locked down since Easter last year, we are looking all the more readily at Easter this year as a renewal; a new start. But we must make sure our new start is safe. Carelessness got us as a world in a mess so we must remain focused on safety precautions. Today’s devotion in Quiet Times with God, asks the question – “Where is our focus?”  

I have been watching the series on The Chosen  on Up TV and every time someone portrays Peter, we see Peter’s impetuousness, not in a violent way but a passionate way. Peter flys by the seat of his heart. I think that is what Jesus knew about Peter. Jesus knew if He could ever get Peter to understand and follow through by focusing on His mission, there would be no stopping him.  And that pretty much was how it was, even though he lost his focus multiple times. The impetuous act that helps me the most with my focus is Peter trying to walk to Jesus on the water.  Matthew 14:28-30.

He believed! He knew….but he could not  maintain his focus on Christ.  I think we identify well with Peter because we see ourselves in him. We have a big advantage that Peter didn’t have, we have the Bible. But if we don’t stay focused on its teachings, we too will be easily distracted. Tonight’s words of encouragement in Jesus Calling Evening addition reminds us that circumstances of life can be scary, hard and seem dark beyond our capabilities to withstand.  But regardless of how it all may seem, God assures us it will be glorious and to be patient, have faith and trust God to do the  driving. 

Relax in His wonderful love and have a safe and peaceful evening.  As you breathe in his love and feel His peace come around you, remember to show kindness as God has shown us kindness.

And remember…God’s got this. 

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.

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.

Our Creator’s Love

I reposting part of this message from Pure Glory and while the heart formed in the wave is amazing, the words really rang true with me. Go read the rest of the message and feel its love.

God is our Creator and desires a close loving relationship, combined with reverence and respectful awe.  He is so much more than someone to grant all your requests. He doesn’t let you become a spoiled brat but goes with you through your challenges. He is Almighty God, your refuge, the Truth, strength, help, Father, and all you need. He defends, corrects, counsels, and keeps us safe from harm. God is Love, Life, Light, Fire, and Holy. He is Supreme, All Knowing and More than Enough

Crown of Glory International Ministries, http://pureglory.net

My daughter made a cross-stitch picture for me years ago that shows just how much God loves us. It’s a love we really can not begin to really understand but we hang on to that love through faith that was instilled in us at rebirth.

“Faith is how we plug into the grace of God. Think of it like a lamp; The lamp can only give light if it is plugged into a power source.” Quiet Times with God Devotional

Feel His love this evening and while we can never fully understand it, accept it and soak in it’s peace.

And as always, remember, Kindness carries a peace and love all its own with the power to touch people in a safe and profound way.

Always Be Kind

Bazar Things That Make Us Laugh

I don’t know if it is because of my quirky personality or just a loose screw but the newer fad of putting googly eye on inanimate objects makes me laugh. Recently a friend of mine, who has the same loose screw, sent me a photo and told me where to go to look up more photos of the same and I did. After a good chuckle, I decided a story needed to be written, to remind us to laugh even when it hard, and for us here to not forget the recent derecho that pushed through Iowa leaving millions of dollars of damage. Some are still dealing with its aftermaths. A derecho is like a short termed hurricane running across the ground. So here you go…as told by the local trees.

The Storm of 2020, In Memory of Slim

Did you hear what happened to Slim
You mean about the storm that tore through here?
I hear he is down for the count.
I saw a lot of good friends go down, some broke in half.
No! Say it ain’t so. Slim was a mighty oak!
I hear tell he just lays there weeping like a willow.
Oh, woe is me. My top notch is gone, limbs are broken, I am doomed I tell you, doomed.
Don’t give up Slim. Look what I was able to do when I go blown down. My limbs are growing strong still. Still try to reach for the sun.
Or you can be like us Slim. When our original tree fell, we became four trees. So don’t ever give up. God always had a plan for each of us.

This silly story does have a heart to heart true message. Life can be hard and can knock you down from time to time. But don’t give up. That life storm may be just the thing to help you be what God needs you to be. Hang on, reach out to His hand and left Him guide you through all of life’s storms.

Let His goodness, love, patience, peace and kindness wrap around you snuggly so that you can show others that God never leaves you alone. He is always by your side. So have faith as best as you can, smile as much as you can and always be kind, even when it is hard.