The Gift of Joy

Good morning friends. I come to you this morning to explore some more through the Advent devotional book “The Gifts of Christmas”.  This week we are celebrating the beauty and power of Joy.  The candle we light is pink because this color represents joy. This candle is meant to help us enjoy the remembrance of Jesus’ birth. This candle is also called the Shepherd’s Candle as it represents the joy of the shepherds. 

I can not imagine how the shepherds felt when all of a sudden the sky erupted with angels, but they told them not to be afraid. The gift of joy that had been promised of old had now been born.  It is a gift of caring love and of strength.

And while this world around us can be quite scary, we have an inner joy that is stronger than any fear through Jesus our King.  The Wiseman from foreign lands had studied the stars for years and knew of the prophecies. They felt a powerful joy the star appeared and went to seek it out.

As our pastor explained to us during Sunday’s sermon, joy is not a feeling, it’s a choice. Happiness is a feeling that can come from joy but if circumstances are dire, you can still have joy, it is a gift from God that comes from within. 

There are many scriptures concerning joy, so it is a very important gift for us to embrace and hold tightly to.  The psalmists remind us to be glad in the joy that has been bestowed on us.

May you feel the Joy of the Lord in all that you encounter. Have a blessed weekend and remember through this season of joy to always be kind.

Always Be Kind

Encouragement for Women

Some encouragement and love for all women. This poem was written by Donna Ashworth and the sculpture was created by Simone Wojciechowski . I was so touched when I saw them both on facebook, I wanted to share with all of you. Never forget how very special all women are. A special creation from God by design for His purposes. Even though some of us have harder tasks than others, He has given us all the strength to get through them all. Hang in there and lean on God when it seems too hard and He will carry you through it.

When God created woman he was working late on the 6th day.

An angel came by and asked, “Why spend so much time on her?

The Lord answered, “Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her? She must function in all kinds of situations. She must be able to embrace several kids at the same time, have a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart. She must do all this with only two hands. She cures herself when sick and can work 18 hours a day.”

The angel was impressed, “Just two hands…impossible! And this is the standard model?” The angel came closer and touched the woman. “But you have made her so soft, Lord.

“She is soft”, said the Lord, “But I have made her strong. You can’t imagine what she can endure and overcome.”

“Can she think?” the angel asked.

The Lord answered, “Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate.

“The angel touched her cheeks. “Lord, it seems this creation is leaking! You have put too many burdens on her.”

“She is not leaking…it is a tear” the Lord corrected the angel.

“What’s it for?” asked the angel.

The Lord said, “Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering and her pride.”

This made a big impression on the angel. “Lord, you are a genius. You thought of everything. A woman is indeed marvelous!”

Lord said, “Indeed she is. She has strength that amazes a man. She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens. She holds happiness, love and opinions. She smiles when she feels like screaming. She sings when she feels like crying. Cries when happy and laughs when afraid. She fights for what she believes in. Her love is unconditional. Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies but she finds strength to get on with life.”

The angel asked: “So she is a perfect being?”

The Lord replied, “No. She has just one drawback…she often forgets what she is worth.”

May women everywhere understand just how very important they are. I think women underestimate themselves more than men do and while all creation has a divine purpose, I believe women can balance more plates in the air at one time that most men. So rest assured ladies, you are indeed special. And remember in all that you do, be kind.

And do it with kindness

Morning Encouragement

Good morning friends. I wanted to share with you a quick word on fighting the good fight. What does that mean…why do we have to even think about fighting? Because Life is hard, sometimes even on good days. Billy Graham’s message this morning was an encouragement to me and I hope it will be to you.

Remember to always walk with Christ, live for Christ, and to have one consuming passion—to please Him in all that we do. Then, whatever happens, we know that He has permitted it in order to teach us some priceless lesson and to perfect us for His service. He will enrich our circumstances, be they pleasant or disagreeable, by the fact of His presence with us. Billy Graham

We wonder why life seems to be so hard sometimes and its usually because we make it hard by forgetting His presence is always with us, strengthening us, loving us and sometimes carrying us.

Remember the footsteps poem from a few years back, even though we can’t see Him around us, even though we only see one set of footprints in the sand, it proves he is just carrying you. He will not leave you to carry the burden, the discouragement, or the fight alone.

Let Him drive the car for a while and enjoy the beauty out the window. I know that sounds like a strange analogy but it is a favorite of mine as I often want to be the one driving. But if we would move over and let Him drive, there may be a few less potholes or at least the ability to not bounce too hard when you hit them.

I encourage you today to feel His peace surround you and as always remember to be kind and reflect the beauty and joy of His presence in you.

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.

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

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.

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.
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We know that while we suffer on this earth, God himself will restore us and bring us peace.
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God will restore you and make you feel His strength and bring you peace and comfort…regardless of your deepest pain.
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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.
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A Little Nighttime Encouragement

With our hectic lives that we live, zooming here to there or staying closed off in our homes, we all need a little encouragement that everything will be okay…eventually. While no one can guarantee that, I can guarantee this…you are truly loved by God and I share this with you as a little encouragement to help keep you going.

To be encouraged is to be filled with courage, to face life as it moves around us. Let’s face it, there are many things we come upon that fill us with fear and discouragement, like… Is this what I need to do, am I good enough to get it done, did I do it right according to whomever, the list is endless…  but Jesus encourages us with His word as He reminds us that all discouragements that have ever made in this world… He has ultimately squashed…

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It is the enemy’s job to undermine out thinking, making us feel fear and uncertainty. While we are now in the middle of scary and uncertain times, I know for certain who really is in charge, God. While we do not understand His ways, we can understand His love. So let us snuggle up to Him as He gently gathers us in His loving arms for the evening. Let us relax in His tender mercies with the hope he grants us for restful sleep and encouragement for facing another day tomorrow.
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Have a blessed evening. And remember to be Kind. It is a true reflection of Love.
kind moon

Time for Christians to Pray

Good evening friends and welcome to a new month. My hope and prayer is June will be a more gentle and loving month than May seemed to be. We are jumping from the fire of Covid-19 to the frying pan of chaos right now in this country, a frying pan that has no business being used as its main focus is to divide and destroy. So much chaos, so much anger, so much fear and so much destruction even through the smaller towns. We will be under curfew until this meanness goes away and who knows how long that will take. In Davenport last night there were two deaths and 4 injuries. One death was innocent 21 year old bystander buying groceries for a friend at Walmart, such a waste.

In my devotion this morning from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald made a profound statement that is so relevant for today’s mindset in the USA.

“God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.” Oswald Chambers  
Read that again and understand its meaning. Without God’s control, the devil runs amuck.
 

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The chaos is so far out of control from the original reason of the anger and has swelled to an ideal by those whose purpose is to divide and destroy. It has turned into a chaotic dragon and in my opinion the church on its knees is the only hope of this dragon being lassoed so that God will come back in and control that dragon. And by church I don’t mean the Catholic church or the Baptist church or the Methodist church…I mean God’s church. Those who loved the Lord, His word and follow His teachings.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
It is a fearful time but our faith in God proves who is ultimately in control.

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But we must do our part, we must remain strong. We are God’s church, His masterpiece of all things good.

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We can help spread God’s light to those who live in the darkness and those who do not understand the power of the darkness as it engulfs them into evil ways.

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So during this time of chaos, be strong in prayer and allow your light of Christ to shine brightly from you.

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And even in the midst of chaos, be kind when you can.
Kind breeze

Morning Encouragement

Good morning friends. Each morning as I read from my devotion book and the bible I try to follow that lesson I have read for that day. Today’s encouraging message is one that really speaks to me while we are in this time of uncertainty and I thought I would share my thoughts. I find it interesting that if we stop and listen, ignoring all the noise that goes around us daily, God’s scripture will open to us and start to make sense. His word never changes and never gets old and can encourage us differently each time we read it depending on what we are going through at the time.

Paul tell us in Colossians Chapter 2 how he personally struggled but that if we all come
together in love, the love and riches of Christ will be made know to us.

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While some of these treasure may come to us wrapped in the form of a trial, the trial itself is designed to shake us free from our perceived thoughts of how we think we are to be, to help understand His prepared path for you for that day. Although it can be a scary time, it is the key to the hidden treasures He has placed strategically along the way to richly bless us.

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God’s treasures also come in the form of many things we enjoy like sunshine, birds singing, colorful flowers, friendships and answered prayers. He has not abandoned this sin-wracked world, He is strongly present, in every sun rise, every flower, every smile you see and the kindness he shares with you that lifts you up so that you can share kindness with others to lift them up. My hope in sharing this with you today is that you are lifted up knowing He is there with you.

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And regardless of what is on your particular road of life, whether is be bright sunshine or  seemingly gray darkness, God never lets go of our hand and will walk safely with you so hold tight to His hand.

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May you have a richly treasured day and always try to share kindness. It may be the only kindness a person sees on any given day.
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