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.

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

A Bumpy Ride

Good evening friends. These past two weeks have definitely been a bumpy ride for a lot of us, with some of us going down roads we really were not ready to go down. But God reminds us that even though we can not see Him and sometimes can not feel Him, we have assured faith that He is there walking with us.

Luke 1 37

It is faith and God’s love that fills us with Hope.
hebrews-11-1
We know that while we suffer on this earth, God himself will restore us and bring us peace.
1-peter-5-10
God will restore you and make you feel His strength and bring you peace and comfort…regardless of your deepest pain.
isaiah_61_2_comfort
I leave you with this prayer of restoration, comfort and peace. Hold fast to God’s hand and He will carry you when you can no longer stand.
Strength

And I remind you as always of the majestic gift of kindness. Even when we think we have nothing left to give, a gentle smile may be the only kind thing that person has seen that day. Always be kind.
kind smile

Peace By the Stream

There are pictures that get posted here on WordPress inspire many to write amazing words to fit the pictures, then there are those of us (like me) who see beauty in the pictures and try to encourage others of what I see in a less professional but heartfelt way. The picture below is from Irene Tron, at Coffee Creek Watershed. This picture brought me a sense of peace, something this world needs desperately right now.  May you feel the peace come through my words in my adaptation of the 23rd Psalm, and may we, all across this world, learn to find peace as God had intended.

Across the Creek
Photo by Irene Tron

Beside His Stream

God, the gentle shepherd is our caring guide

we do better following Him than our own selfish pride

He leads us by the quiet waters, refreshing our soul

Lying on green grass, us lacking nothing, is His goal

He guides along the right paths for His name’s sake,

while we struggle and flounder with mistake after mistake.

He never leaves our side even in the darkest of times

We fear no evil as it surrounds us, for into His lap we do climb

He prepares to secure our needs, even with enemies near

He pours forth His love, from overflowing cups so dear

His goodness and love radiate through the days of our life

as we dwell in His house and forever feel no strife.

Anita Neal, adaptation from Psalm 23

The 23rd Psalm is know by many, even some who do not really follow the word. This small Psalm by David shows that as we follow God and obey His commands, we then have hope for eternal life and security.(NIV notes)

psalm-23-s

As you feel the peace of God, remember to share that peace and kindness with others.

kindness peace

Evening Peace

I usually do a morning devotion each morning with members of my church but thought I would also do one for the evening to help shelter in the peace we should have before shutting our eyes in sleep.

During the day hours, we tend to focus on our problems instead of focusing on our faith because sometimes we tend to put faith only on things we only see. But scripture reminds us of a different thought pattern concerning Faith.

Scripture-Type-Hebrews11-1

Oswald Chamber’s has a devotion book which I enjoy called “My Utmost for His Highest” which is a wonderful devotion book(also online). A lot of people may not know who he was but he was an early twentieth century Scottish Baptist Evangelist that had a profound way of teaching the truth in the scriptures. And he taught a lot about faith, courage, grace and peace wrapped up in the love of God.

fear

Trusting in a God, that we don’t see takes faith, which builds trust, which produces hope for us to survive anything that may come along our path of life.

faith

And that process is what brings us Peace.

peace

May you feel God’s peace tonight as the day winds down and you close the doors of today’s problems in  hopes of starting a new day tomorrow with renewed kindness from above.

Eph

Fears, Lies, Trust, Love & Peace

As we traverse these difficult times I am reminded of a passage in  Jeremiah, chapter 38, in the how trickery of people’s gossiping and how it can influence those who are weak in God’s teaching and begin to believe those lies. I see this same thing going on today with so much “he said/she said”, this one is lying, that one is lying. Who do we believe and who do we trust. So it is imperative we stay close to God, for He is who we can always trust. 

Jesus Calling devotion books reminds us this morning that God is not careless. He allows difficult times to come to equip us for other things in the future. I love the saying that “Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes he allows the storms to rage but calms our hearts.”  This world is definitely in a storm but we must breathe in and relax in God and trust in His strength and counsel to keep us above water. So this morning let’s trust in His unfailing love.
unfailing love

He is a mighty God and nothing is too difficult for Him. So do not fear from our seemed weakness. Lean on God’s possibilities.
posssible
Our weakness is designed to show his strength, so don’t let your presumed limitations measure the wall that is before you. Stay connected to God and He will show you how to climb that wall.
power
As we stay connected with God, we are encouraged by His love we for we know He is always walking with us.
walk with you
So just remember to talk with Him and then listen while he guides you through every challenging situation.
guide
As you feel the comfort of His love and peace, remember to share the peace and kindness with others. Now more than ever kindness is needed to spread across this world to bring us all a bit of peace.
kindness peace